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Never Give In-Resilience in Troubled Times

With all of the doom and gloom in the news and on social media lately, I would be remiss if I did not mention the grit of this great community. Surely, it is not perfect. Like everywhere else, there is crime, and the darker side of humanity occasionally comes to the fore, but there is

With all of the doom and gloom in the news and on social media lately, I would be remiss if I did not mention the grit of this great community. Surely, it is not perfect. Like everywhere else, there is crime, and the darker side of humanity occasionally comes to the fore, but there is also hope.

When we are faced with hard times, we also know how to come together and become stronger than we thought possible. There is no doubt in my mind that we will get through this temporary crisis. Businesses will rebuild, schools will be back in session, sports will resume, and life in the Susquehanna Valley will once more get back to some sense of normalcy.

When one thinks about what this country, and community, has been through — many wars both home and abroad, terrorism, disease — there is no possible way that we will not also persevere through the current pandemic.

In fact, we will not just survive, but thrive. Though we are grateful for strong leaders in times of crisis, the strength and resiliency of this community lies not with our government, nor its leaders. It resides in its people, for it is the people of this nation that make it great. This is plainly in evidence with the scores of restaurants and small businesses that have volunteered to feed the kids that will go hungry with the state-mandated school closings.

As I was doing my research for this article, I remembered a speech given by Winston Churchill at Harrow School, an independent boarding school for boys, that Churchill attended in his youth. Churchill was invited to speak at the school, and as he was going through some of the old school songs, he discovered a verse had been added to one of them in his honor.
“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!”

He mentioned this to the students while he was speaking to them and went on to say that in the year since he had been invited by the headmaster to speak to them, a lot had happened. World War II was in full bloom, but in spite of that, they had persevered, and the country was in a better place than it had been. In his speech, Churchill said that the British can endure, “But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. It is generally said that the British are often better at the last. They do not expect to move from crisis to crisis; they do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance of war; but when they very slowly make up their minds that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months — if it takes years — they do it.

Another lesson I think we may take, just throwing our minds back to our meeting here ten months ago and now, is that appearances are often very deceptive, and as Kipling well says, we must ‘…meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same.’

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are, yet without imagination, not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly, many more than will happen, but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period — I am addressing myself to the School — surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

As Churchill was closing his speech, he went on to say that he had asked the headmaster for permission to change one of the words in the added verse.
“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 Headmaster’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.”

So, take let us all take Winston Churchill’s words to heart and never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. We shall survive and thrive together!

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