For Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, the legacy of Sir Winston Churchill is far greater than his renowned leadership during World War II.
As Britain’s prime minister during those dark years, Churchill’s bravery stands as an example for current leaders around the world, the ambassador said.
“This was a man who was not frightened of telling the truth when he saw something that was a threat to our societies,’’ Westmacott said during an interview Friday while in St. Louis at Washington University. “He was brave enough to confront realities that were inconvenient and uncomfortable.”
Westmacott recalled how Churchill was alone among world leaders in the 1930s in publicly warning about the threat posed by German Chancellor Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
Churchill “is seen to be someone who bucks the trend and led a government that stood alone against evil at a time when everybody else was saying, ‘It’s too difficult,’ ‘Leave me out of it,’ or ‘Let’s settle with the bad guy.’ “
Westmacott is in Missouri this weekend to participate in ceremonies Saturday at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was Britain’s prime minister during World War II.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Churchill’s great-grandson are among those expected to attend the service.
The trip marks Westmacott’s first visit to Missouri and to St. Louis during his three years as ambassador. He’s based in Washington.
Westmacott recalled that Churchill was a strong advocate of close ties with the United States during World War II and throughout his retirement. “He became absolutely convinced that the United States was essential’’ to world peace, the ambassador said.
When Churchill left office, the ambassador recalled, he told British leaders, “Never be separated from America.”