This Week's Story

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As World War II tossed the world an American ambassador helped Allied world leaders and common folk work together.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

John Winant: ambassador with eyes and heart, part one

As John Winant stepped from a train near London, King George VI met the new American ambassador to Britain, with a smile and handshake.

“I am glad to welcome you here,” he said.

Soon John was in a private meeting with King George. For ninety minutes they discussed Britain’s desperate needs. Nazi Germany was crushing Britain despite the successes of the British Royal Air Force, and the determination of the British to live life normally and keep steady.

For eighteen months, beginning in 1939, Britain had been at war with Germany. Britain was Europe’s last hope of stopping Germany from controlling all of Europe. The British needed hope, military hardware, soldiers, and raw materials. They were hungry; their clothing was wearing out and their homes were cold from lack of fuel. German U-boats were destroying British supply lines.

The Battle of Britain had unleashed an intense German bombing campaign to invade Britain, but it had not succeeded. Germany’s

lightning war, the Blitz, came upon London in fury the night of September 7, 1940. For 56 out of 57 nights the sky glowed red. Bombs exploded onto people, factories, and stockyards.

When Ambassador Winant had arrived in Britain, he was asked by reporters, “Please say a few words to the British people.”

He spoke quietly. “I’m very glad to be here. There is no place I’d rather be at this time than in England.” His words were encouraging. Could it be that the United States would help Britain? So far, the American government had shown little support.

Would this new American ambassador try to keep the U.S. from helping Britain, and getting involved in World War II?

When Winant met the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the two were able to immediately discuss problems and relations between their countries. Churchill was direct and reasonable; Winant was fair and a good listener.

At a luncheon in Winant’s honor, he spoke. He was not a smooth speaker, but he was obviously sincere and honest. He did not praise his country. Instead he declared, “Today is the honor and destiny of the British people to man the bridgehead of humanity’s hopes. It is your privilege to stand against ruthless and powerful dictators who would destroy the lessons of two thousand years of history. It is your destiny to say no to them: ‘Here you shall not pass.’”

“Free peoples are again cooperating to win a free world, and no tyranny can frustrate their hopes. The Allies with the help of God shall build a citadel of freedom so strong that force may never again seek its destruction.”

Winant’s audience cheered and applauded.

This is Barbara Steiner. I anticipate returning with part two.

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