POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

There'll Always be an England

by David Trumbull

July 15, 2005

Remember Osama bin Laden on the eve of our presidential election with his televised instructions to American voters? Just what was he trying to tell us? The experts had any number of conflicting translations of his Arabic rant, none of which made particularly good sense in the context of American democracy. But then again, how would an Islamo-fascist have any grasp of the workings of American liberty? Bin Laden lecturing Americans on how to vote is like a man born deaf lecturing the Boston Symphony Orchestra on how to play Beethoven's Ninth --even if he gets something right it still makes no sense.

Now al-Qaida has sent a message into the London underground. And, at least judging from the news accounts I've seen, the British people are ignoring it just as Americans did al-Qaida's Election Day 2004 missive. The response, echoing that of Britons during the Nazi blitz, has been defiance, not submission, and recalls the popular song from that war:

    There'll always be an England
    And England shall be free
    If England means as much to you
    As England means to me.

And comes that line in the song, which in evoking the Union Jack also reminds us of our flag, and of our shared democratic traditions:

    Red, white and blue; what does it mean to you?
    Surely you're proud, shout it aloud,
    "Britons, awake!"

The famed British stiff upper lip can be counted on once again. "We will not be intimidated," Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the dastardly attack. He continued, "We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation, but all nations and on civilized people everywhere."

And around the world, civilized people who love liberty thought, on July 7, 2005, of the words of another Prime Minister:

    "..we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.."

In that speech from 1940, when England stood alone, Churchill chose his words carefully. A few such as "ocean" (which is a borrowing from Greek), along with "cost", and "defend" were originally foreign, but are now totally Anglicized, of the remaining words, every one derives from our homey Anglo-Saxon tongue. That is every word save one --surrender-- which is French.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.