America’s National Churchill Museum is located on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The museum is the site where Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech on 5 March 1946. This speech actually marked the beginning of the Cold War. A short summary of the speech and its most famous phrase reads as follows:
“The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy. For with primacy in power is also joined an awe inspiring accountability to the future. If you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the after-time. It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall guide and rule the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.
The awful ruin of Europe, with all its vanished glories, and of large parts of Asia glares us in the eyes. When the designs of wicked men or the aggressive urge of mighty States dissolve over large areas the frame of civilised society, humble folk are confronted with difficulties with which they cannot cope. For them all is distorted, all is broken, even ground to pulp.
Now I come to the danger which threatens the cottage, the home, and the ordinary people-namely, tyranny. A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe”.
Churchill’s speech has forever linked Fulton and Westminster College with Winston Churchill. In the 1960s Westminster College marked the twentieth anniversary of Churchill’s visit by moving from London to Fulton a Christopher Wren-designed church that had been damaged in WWII by German bombers during the London Blitz. This Church, St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury, had stood in London since 1677 when it replaced an earlier structure that had sat on the same site since the 12th century. The damaged church of St Mary was rebuilt in Fulton brick-by-brick to Wren’s original specifications.
Beneath this Church is the National Churchill Museum which brings to life the story of Winston Churchill and the world he knew. Recently rebuilt from the ground up, the new displays and the permanent exhibition, together with a host of associated historical and cultural activities that support it, was recognised by the United States Congress as America’s National Churchill Museum. (Source and further information: www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org)