November 30, the 143rd birthday of Sir Winston Churchill, was the occasion of a brief burst of bipartisanship as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan hosted a toast to Churchill in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol that was also attended by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and about 120 guests.
Cosponsored by the International Churchill Society, the event is an annual tradition begun under Speaker Ryan’s predecessor John Boehner. Guests sipped Pol Roger champagne as the listened to remarks by the Speaker, British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch, ICS Executive Director Michael F. Bishop, and Duncan Sandys, a great-grandson of Churchill. Also present were Zoe Spencer Churchill, a great-great-granddaughter currently serving as an intern on Capitol Hill, and the new President of the George Washington University (home of the National Churchill Library and Center) Dr. Thomas LeBlanc.
The Speaker saluted Sir Winston by declaring that “he inspires us to defend all that we hold dear with joy, with purpose, and with our whole heart.” Ambassador Darroch celebrated the Special Relationship. Michael Bishop observed that over the last year “political and journalistic invocations of his name have been constant, and Churchill has even become a movie star.” To illustrate this, Bishop shared a dramatic clip from Darkest Hour, the new film starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Duncan Sandys reflected that his ancestor had once had a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service and hoped that the Representatives present would let bygones be bygones.
The International Churchill Society is grateful for the hospitality of the Speaker and his staff and pleased at this continuing celebration of Churchill’s unparalleled example of leadership at the highest levels of government.