Address to a Joint Session
of the U.S. Congress
February 20, 1985
My thoughts turn to three earlier occasions when a British prime minister--Winston Churchill--has been honoured by a call to address both houses. Among his many remarkable gifts, Winston held a special advantage here. Through his American mother he had ties of blood with you. Alas for me, these are not matters we can readily arrange for ourselves. Those three occasions deserve to be recalled because they serve as lamps along a dark road which our people trod together, and they remind us what an extraordinary period of history the world has passed through between that time and ours. And they tell us what later generations in both our countries sometimes find hard to grasp--why past associations bind us so closely. Winston Churchill's version of a union of mind and purpose between the English speaking peoples was to form the mainspring of the West.
No one of my generation can forget that America has been the principal architect of a peace in Europe which has lasted forty years. Given this shield of the United States, we have been granted the opportunities to build a concept of Europe beyond the dreams of our fathers: a Europe which seemed unattainable amid the mud and slaughter of the First World War and the suffering and sacrifice of the Second. When, in the Spring of 1945, the guns fell silent, General Eisenhower called our soldiers to a service of Thanksgiving. In the order of service was the famous prayer of Sir Francis Drake: "O Lord. God, when thou givest to thy servants to endeavour in great matter, grant us to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of