“To You, America—A Thanksgiving Day Celebration.” That was the title of the concert held on November 23, 1944 at the Royal Albert Hall in London to raise money for King George’s Fund for Sailors. The American community turned out in large numbers, and the auditorium was packed when a surprise speaker took the stage. Standing under an enormous blow-up of a photograph of Lincoln, Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke of war, peace, and a future day of Thanksgiving in which “all the world will share”:
“It is your Day of Thanksgiving, and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us, that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States, with all the variety and freedom of their life in such contrast to the iron discipline which has governed many other communities—when we see that in three or four years the United States has in sober fact become the greatest military, naval, and air power in the world—that, I say to you in this time of war, is itself a subject for profound thanksgiving…
But there is a greater thanksgiving day, which still shines ahead, which beckons the bold and loyal and warm-hearted. And that is when this union of action which has been forced upon us by our common hatred of tyranny, which we have maintained during those dark and fearful days, shall become a lasting union of sympathy and feeling and loyalty and hope between all the British and American peoples, wherever they may dwell. Then, indeed, there will be a Day of Thanksgiving, and one in which all the world will share.”
Illustration by Katherine Messenger www.katherinemessenger.com. Copyright Encounter Books.
Photo: Thanksgiving Day 194 at the Royal Albert Hall in wartime London. Prime Minister Winston Churchill looks forward to “a Day of Thanksgiving…in which all the world will share.” (Courtesy of the Royal Albert Hall Archives.)
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