Never Give In – What Churchill Really Said
On October 29, 1941, Great Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School in the UK where he had attended and sung as a youth. It was his second visit in a year and his address to these young students has oft been quoted and misquoted ever since, emphasizing his repeated advice which he vigorously delivered, “Never give in,” rather than “Never give up.”
What you may not know, and perhaps more poignant, is how he actually ended the talk, commenting on a verse the students had added to one of the school songs. Many believe that his final words were not prepared, but rather, inspired by the moment.
The verse they added was in tribute to their great leader:
“Not less we praise in darker days
The leader of our nation,
And Churchill’s name shall win acclaim
From each new generation.
For you have power in danger’s hour
Our freedom to defend, Sir!
Though long the fight we know that right
Will triumph in the end, Sir!”
While Churchill was deeply touched by the gesture, there was one word that caught his attention and his closing remarks spoke volumes about the optimism with which he led his country.
He said, “You sang here a verse of a School Song: you sang that extra verse written in my honor, which I was very greatly complimented by and which you have repeated today. But there is one word in it I want to alter – I wanted to do so last year, but I did not venture to. It is the line: ‘Not less we praise in darker days.’
I have obtained the Head Master’s permission to alter darker to sterner. ‘Not less we praise in sterner days.’
Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days–the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
As you face your daily challenges, may you be lifted by Churchill’s encouraging perspective of where we may find ourselves at any given time in this world.
May you believe in the goodness of your fellow man, welcome each morning with enthusiastic gratitude and have faith in all you can accomplish.
And, may you never give in.”
Now, you know what Churchill really said and why he said it!