When he was a child, Winston Churchill was almost totally rejected by preoccupied, disinterested parents. He wrote innumerable letters from boarding school pleading with his mother to visit him at Christmas. Either the letters went unanswered, or the replies failed to refer to any plans about the family getting together at Christmas. When all the other students left the school to be with their families during the holidays, young Winston remained alone at his school.
It’s astounding that with his incredibly unfortunate childhood-coupled with a continued series of failures at school and later, political failure upon failure-that Churchill would show such greatness in his country’s finest hour.
But late in his life, he said something that gives us some insight into his greatness. He was 80 years old when he was asked to give the commencement address at
Harrow, the boarding school he had attended as a youth. He stood up, looked over his glasses at the young graduates, and delivered one of the shortest commencement addresses on record:
“Never, never, never give up!” he cried out.
With that he sat down.