Virtual Commemoration of Historic ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech Planned for March 5-6
75th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s Historic Address to be Commemorated March 5-6: Open and Free to the Public Online
George Will, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, will lead a distinguished line-up of historians, authors, and other notables on Friday, March 5, in virtual ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of a speech that rocked a war-weary world and ushered in a Cold War by Western Allies against the former Soviet Union.
Besides Will’s keynote, the ceremonies will include an expert panel discussion, video salutes, and the debut of an intriguing documentary and a virtual exhibit from America’s National Churchill Museum at Westminster College, where former British Prime Minister Sir Winston S. Churchill, accompanied by President Harry S. Truman, gave his now-famous “Sinews of Peace” address on March 5, 1946.
The day’s commemoration activities about Churchill and his speech — often called the “Iron Curtain” speech — will be streamed live online and offered free to the public. But registration on the Museum’s website (NationalChurchillMuseum.org) is required.
March 5, 2021
The ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. CDT with a live discussion between two grandchildren of Churchill and Truman, artist Edwina Sandys, of New York City, and author and actor Clifton Truman Daniel, of Chicago. Their discussion will be livestreamed from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO, and will focus on the Churchill-Truman legacy.
At 11 a.m. CDT, Churchill Fellow Dr. Monroe E. Trout, of Appleton, WI, a longtime supporter of the Museum and its educational mission, will be awarded the Winston Churchill Medal for Leadership, the highest honor awarded by America’s National Churchill Museum.
A range of informative videos and live commentary will take place throughout the day featuring Her Majesty’s British Ambassador to the United States Dame Karen Pierce, Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts, author Catherine Katz, U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) David Petraeus, MTV Network International Founder William “Bill” Roedy, Churchill’s great-grandson Randolph Churchill, and University of Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre Director Allen Packwood.
At Noon CDT, Will is set to deliver the prestigious Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture. The author of 13 books and a contributor to MSNBC, he will deliver a speech titled “Churchillian Realism.”
Will’s lecture and other activities will concentrate on Churchill and his prescient speech as well as why he came to Fulton 75 years ago. Churchill bravely led Great Britain through World War II and became one of the most famous political leaders worldwide.
In late 1945, he had been invited to speak at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, by College President Franc L. McCluer and U.S. President Harry Truman, who accompanied him by train from Washington, DC, to Fulton.
Churchill’s hour-long speech before students, Fulton residents, and invited guests in the College’s gymnasium warned that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin was expanding his Communist grip throughout Eastern and Central Europe. Churchill’s speech — just six months after WWII had ended — alarmed much of the war-weary Western world, which felt an underlying threat from the Soviet Union.
Churchill’s speech reverberated around the globe and ushered in the Cold War, a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States as well as the country’s respective allies (1947-1991).
The next 44 years would be filled with political hostilities, threats, propaganda, and other measures short of open warfare between both sides. It included trade embargoes, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the space race, the nuclear arms race, veiled threats of a third world war, and other geopolitical events.
The Cold War played a key role in shaping American and British foreign policy and lasted through nine U.S. presidential administrations (Truman to G.W. Bush), 11 British prime ministers (Attlee to Major), and six Soviet premiers (Stalin to Gorbachev).
From 2 p.m.-3 p.m. CDT, a livestreamed panel discussion titled “Conversations: Churchill Today” will focus on the legacy of the “Sinews of Peace” speech, national and international security, and the special relationship today between the United States and Great Britain. The panel includes Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts; the Museum’s Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator Timothy Riley; and R. Crosby Kemper III, director of the Institute for Museums and Library Services.
From 3 p.m.-3:30 p.m. CDT, the Museum will premiere “Franta and Winston,” a documentary by Steve Stinson, ’73 ΣΑΕ, of Roanoke, VA, and America’s National Churchill Museum. The film will focus on the Museum’s sculpture of Churchill by František “Franta” Bělský, a Czech-British sculptor (1921-2000).
At 3:30 p.m. CDT, Riley and various Westminster students will debut “Sinews of Peace: The Power of Prose,” a virtual exhibition examining Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, with his edits and last-minute additions.
March 6, 2021
At 8 a.m. CDT, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal will devote live program time to the “Sinews of Peace” speech from America’s National Churchill Museum.
The commemoration activities will conclude with ceremonies at 10 a.m. CDT, Saturday, March 6, when the Museum’s Board of Governors inducts eight distinguished individuals into the Society of Churchill Fellows, an honorary association of key supporters of the Museum, the only one in North America fully dedicated to commemorating the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill. They are:
- Colin Brown of Lighthouse Point, FL, chair of the board of JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
- U.S. Navy Vice Admiral (Ret.) Michael T. Franken of Sioux City, IA, first commanding officer of the USS Winston S. Churchill.
- Keith S. Harbison of St. Louis, MO, founder and managing partner of Alitus Partners.
- U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Richard C. Harding of Columbia, MO, retired The Judge Advocate General (TJAG) in Washington, DC.
- Erik Larson of New York City, author of six New York Times bestsellers, including his newest book, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.
- The Honorable Michael Y. Scudder of Chicago, IL, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
- Cita Stelzer of Scottsdale, AZ, author of two highly successful books about Churchill: Dinner with Churchill and Working with Winston: The Unsung Women Behind Britain’s Greatest Statesman.
- George Will of Washington, DC, veteran columnist for The Washington Post and one of the nation’s leading conservative voices.