I admire several people. The list is a mixture of people I have known and people I wish I had known. On the surface, they seem to have very little in common. However, each of them had integrity, determination, and an ability to stay true to themselves and to what they believed in. These people stood by their principles at the most difficult of times, even when everyone else seemed to under estimate them or oppose their views.
Today, one week before Father’s Day, I wish to tell you about the man at the top of my list. He is not a relative of mine, and he died before I was born. However, if you were born in a free country and enjoy the fruits of liberty, you owe your freedom to this man as much as to anyone else. He was named after his great-grandfather Albert, but his family called him Bertie.
His family and his fellow citizens underestimated him. Then by circumstances beyond his control, he was forced into a job he did not want and did not believe he could do. He never wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, his older brother was groomed for that. There were those who even thought that his youngest brother George would be preferable. He had a speech impediment and in an occupation where sons are seen as an asset, he had two daughters. He became close friends with President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, both of whom have over shadowed him on the pages of history. Yet, the world today would be vastly worse if not for his courage, foresight, perseverance, and dedication to his people.
On 7 September 1940, Hitler began the Battle of Britain by bombing London, killing about 1,000 people in the East End of London. The Prime Minister and the British government wanted him to leave London with his family for their own safety. He refused. He stayed in his home with his wife (Elizabeth), and sent their daughters to safety in the countryside. On 13 September 1940, he and his wife narrowly escaped death when two Nazi bombs exploded in the courtyard of their home. To which his wife replied, “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel we can look the East End in the face.”
Ever defiant to the threat from Nazi Germany, the two of them visited the scenes of Nazi bombings and the factories supporting the war effort. They were always encouraging and never missed a chance to tell their fellow citizens how proud they were of them. He took a stand for what was right, whether it was against the tyranny of the Nazi’s or the tyranny of racial injustice. A man so many doubted just a few years before had become loved and respected.
If he was concerned with leaving a good reputation for posterity, he did that. However, his thoughts, words, and deeds were always for his people and not for himself. So, the accomplishments of this man continued. Concerned for all his countrymen and not just those at home being bombed by the Germans; he traveled into the battlefields to be with his fellow citizens. He visited the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1939; he went to North Africa, Italy, and Malta. In June of 1944, shortly after the invasion, he went to Normandy. Wherever British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand forces were fighting, soon he would be there. Always close to the front lines, always in danger, and always concerned for the men and never for his own safety.
To history, he is recorded as His Majesty King George VI. To those people who held out alone against the Nazi’s for almost two years, and to those of us who to continue to be encouraged by him today, he will always be known as His Majesty King George the Great.
- Grandad’s words made Churchill and the Queen cry. How sad Beardy misquoted them this week… (dailymail.co.uk)
- The Diamond Jubilee… A Farewell To Monarchy (salem-news.com)
- The Modern Elizabethans: The Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-1997 (chandlerozconsultants.wordpress.com)
- The Queen’s First Speech (speak2all.wordpress.com)
- Five Nazi Programs That Confirm They Were Dumber Than You Think (socyberty.com)