5¢ Churchill Memorial
Issue Date: May 13, 1965
City: Fulton, MO
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10 1/2 x 11
U.S. #1264 honors the memory of Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. He was made an honorary citizen of the U.S. when John Kennedy signed a special Congressional bill. The stamp features the famous “Angry Lion” photograph by Yousuf Karsh of Canada. It was first issued in Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill delivered his famous “iron curtain” speech in 1946.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
During his long and productive life, Churchill was a noted soldier, war reporter, author, painter, speaker, and statesman. He’s best known for his stubborn – yet courageous – leadership during World War II. As a war-time Prime Minister, he helped pull England back from the brink of defeat by forming strong alliances with world leaders. Churchill’s efforts led to the coordinated military strategy that defeated Adolf Hitler.
One of Churchill’s most famous speeches was given in the United States, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. Titled “Sinews of Peace,” the speech contained the famous line, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent....”
The Winston Churchill Memorial and Library in the United States is located at Westminster College, in the “reconstructed” Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. This building dates back to the 12th century. Christopher Wren redesigned it in 1677, after it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
During World War II, an incendiary bomb left the beautiful and historic church in ruins. However, stone by stone, this building was moved to Fulton, Missouri, where the building was pieced back together. This process, which the London Times called “perhaps the biggest jigsaw puzzle in the history of architecture,” began in the spring of 1964. Five years later, on May 7, 1969, the building’s dedication ceremonies were held.
Churchill was very pleased with the idea that an English church, restored in America, would serve as a museum in his honor. He wrote, “It may symbolize in the eyes of English-speaking peoples the ideas of Anglo-American association in which rest, now as before, so many of our hopes for peace and the future of mankind.”
Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech
On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill gave one of his most famous speeches, in which he used the phrase, “iron curtain” to describe the communist boundary in Europe.
As much of the world celebrated the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945, Churchill grew concerned about the Soviet Union’s growing influence and resolved that we must “impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire.” That July, he lost his bid for re-election as prime minister but was already working with the king on a new national government.
Churchill then served as the leader of the opposition, a role that still made him a major influence in world affairs. In this role, he visited the United States in 1946 and was invited to deliver a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5.
Joined on stage by President Harry Truman, Churchill began his “Sinews of Peace” speech by thanking and praising the United States. He then promoted his belief that the US and Britain develop an even closer relationship to help police the postwar world. Churchill then issued a warning against the Soviet Union’s expansion and compared it to Adolph Hitler’s rise before World War II. He went on to warn that with the Soviets, there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.”
Also during this speech, Churchill used the phrase “iron curtain” when he said, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”
Truman and the other people present applauded Churchill’s speech, and soon the phrase “iron curtain” became widespread. However, some US leaders opposed his idea of a closer relationship, as they believed Britain’s power was declining and didn’t want to have to support them. Additionally, Joseph Stalin called the speech “warmongering” and Churchill’s points about the “English-speaking world” as imperialist racism. Though the Russians had been Britain’s and America’s allies against Hitler just a year prior, they were now preparing for the Cold War. In fact, some Russian historians point to this speech as the start of the war.
Click here to read or listen to the full speech.