My parents and I saw the movie Lincoln a few weeks ago. I thought it was a very good film but I also thought the whole situation was rather torturous to view for over two hours. How much worse must it have been to live through the Civil War, much less lead our country through it.
Another remarkable man who led a country through unimaginable crisis was Winston Churchill. Extraordinary action was not limited to world leaders, however. Rosie the Riveter, with her hair in a headscarf and her arm flexed, reminded scores of women, “We can do it!” as they went out to work in the positions that their husbands, brothers, and sons left at factories needed to supply the front lines.
A slogan that has gained popularity recently is “Keep calm and carry on.” The posters originally printed in England at the start of the war did not see wide circulation, but the sentiment pervaded the national consciousness as the people of Great Britain were encouraged to go about their business as usual even though they were carrying gas masks and built bomb shelters in their backyards. My favorite piece of World War II memorabilia is a letter from Clementine Churchill to her husband Winston. In it she encourages him to employ “Olympic calm” if possible, as he navigates the waters of WWII. Clementine viewed courtesy as essential to the war effort and I respect her judgment and pluck in in telling her husband what she thought he needed to do to get the job done.
There is no reply recorded in response to Clementine’s letter but I think Churchill took note of her advice.