Blaine’s Bulletin – America’s National Churchill Museum

Nearly fifteen years ago, I introduced a House resolution recognizing the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, as America’s National Churchill Museum. I was excited for the opportunity to recognize this history right here in central Missouri. Last week, I had the pleasure of revisiting the campus and museum to engage in conversations with current students and staff. This was truly a full circle moment as I returned to the very place I visited as a freshman member of Congress more than a decade ago.

In 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Iron Curtain Speech” on campus. Churchill was an instrumental figure in bringing an end to World War II and displayed resounding dedication to protecting liberty for all people.  As one of the greatest figures of the 20th Century, Sir Winston Churchill, a man with a literary bent and a deep devotion to public affairs; remains a political icon to many, even in 2024. Churchill did not merely hate tyranny, he despised it. And he reviled communism. The contempt he breathed for dictators -- renewed in his Iron Curtain speech, at the outset of the cold war -- strengthened the West’s faith in the moral superiority of democracy and the inevitability of its triumph. And while much has changed since the times of the speech back in 1946, many of the core principles are still applicable.

As Winston Churchill said, “Learn all you can about the history of the past, for how else can one even make a guess what is going to happen in the future.” A statement has never rung truer. At the time of his speech, the Cold War was at its height and the U.S. was actively combatting the spread of the red curtain. More than 75 years later, keeping communism out of our borders is still an uphill battle; we are just challenged with doing it in different ways. Our adversaries advance day by day infiltrating our communities, economy, and citizens’ lives. While history isn’t fully replicating itself, knowing and understanding the past has allowed us to prepare for the current day and how we can best assist our allies in their fight against mutual adversaries – I’ll save this deep dive for another day.

Throughout his life, Churchill had many incredible quotes. He once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”. On campus, one the many beautiful pieces of history you will find is the St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury Church, which serves as the campus chapel. The church is a symbol for historical inspiration for many and is a sacred place of worship for students. In 1961, with the support from Winston Churchill himself, Westminster College President, Dr. Robert L.D. Davidson, wanted a unique way to memorialize Churchill’s contributions. After much thought and consultation from his peers, he decided to import a war-ravaged church from England. Yes, you read that correctly, he imported a church! Four years, many permissions, and thousands of bricks later, the St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury Church was built and dedicated on campus. All of this to say, in rebuilding this beautiful structure, ravaged by war, and slated for demolition, it found a new purpose as it was rebuilt on the soil of Fulton, MO.  The St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury Church is not just a place for worship, but a memorial of Winston Churchill – a man who had a nation’s best interest in mind.

If you haven’t already, I recommend making a trip out to Fulton to see the Churchill Museum. Whether you find beauty in history, architecture, or being able to piece together Churchill’s thoughts through seeing actual papers, correspondence, and memorabilia; its time well spent, and I couldn’t be prouder it’s in the Third District of Missouri.

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