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Westminster College to celebrate 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famed ‘Iron Curtain’ speech

Winston Churchill gives his “Sinews of Peace”/”Iron curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946 (Source: National Churchill Museum)

Seventy-five years ago on March 5, 1946, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston S. Churchill, accompanied by President Harry S. Truman, gave his now-famous “Sinews of Peace” address. The site of the speech was Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Westminster was an unknown liberal arts college in 1946. It had been founded as Fulton College in 1851 by Rev. William W. Robertson and the local Presbyterians. In 1853, it was renamed Westminster College. It’s student body was all males until 1979 when its first co-ed class was admitted.

At the time of Churchill’s visit, Westminster College may well have been described as “unremarkable,” but not for long. When Winston Churchill arrived, the college found itself in the world’s spotlight – the backdrop for a speech that is said to have “rocked a war-weary world and ushered in a Cold War by Western Allies against the former Soviet Union.”

On March 5, 2021, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist George Will joins a distinguished line-up of historians, authors and other notables in virtual ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech.

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.

The day’s commemoration activities will be streamed live online and offered free to the public. However, registration on the Museum’s website (www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org) is required.

The ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. with a live discussion between two grandchildren of Churchill and Truman; artist sculptor Edwina Sandys, of New York City; and author and actor Clifton Truman Daniels, of Chicago. Their discussion will be live-streamed from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, and will focus on the Churchill-Truman legacy.

At 11 a.m., Churchill Fellow Dr. Monroe E. Trout, of Appleton, Wisconsin, 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 U.S. 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
  • University of Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre Director Allen Packwood

At noon, 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.

At 2 p.m., a panel discussion titled “Churchill Today” will be live-streamed. It will include special guests who will discuss the importance of Churchill, its relevance today, and the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Great Britain. This discussion will be hosted by Timothy Riley, the Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of America’s National Churchill Museum.

At 3 p.m., the Museum will premiere “Franta and Winston,” a documentary by Steve Stinson of Roanoke, VA, and America’s National Churchill Museum. The film will focus on the Museum’s iconic sculpture of Churchill by František “Franta” Bělský, a Czech-British sculptor (1921-2000).

At 3:30 p.m., Riley and 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.

The commemoration activities will conclude with ceremonies at 11 a.m. on 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, Florida, chair of the board of JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
  • U.S. Navy Vice Admiral (Ret.) Michael T. Franken of Sioux City, Iowa, first commanding officer of the USS Winston S. Churchill.
  • Keith S. Harbison of St. Louis, founder and managing partner of Alitus Partners.
  • U.S. Air Force Lieut. Gen. (Ret.) Richard C. Harding of Columbia, Missouri, 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, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Cita Stelzer of Scottsdale, Arizona, 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, D.C., veteran columnist for The Washington Post and one of the nation’s leading conservative voices.

Other Churchill Fellows include Margaret Thatcher; Winston Churchill II; U.S. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson; J.C. Penney; Walter Cronkite; Harry Guggenheim; Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; The Hon. Edwina Sandys; The Hon. Emma Soames; Andrew Roberts; Gen. (USA Ret.) David H. Petraeus; Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer; Sen. John Danforth; Lord Watson of Richmond; Richard J. Mahoney; Sandra and Dr. Monroe Trout; R. Crosby Kemper III; Jon Meacham; Sir David Cannadine; David Rubenstein; and, former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright.

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