"You Do Your Worst - and We Will do Our Best"
by Winston S. Churchill
First delivered 14 July 1941
In reproducing Churchill's mighty tribute to the rescuers of
London, we have done something we have never done to one of his
speeches: edited it slightly to eliminate contemporary references.
In this evergreen form it serves as commentary on a day that will
live in infamy, 11 September 2001. The original can be found in
Churchill¹s The Unrelenting Struggle (English edition 187;
American edition 182) or in the Complete Speeches VI:6448.
The impressive and inspiring spectacle we have witnessed displays
the vigour and efficiency of the civil defence forces. They have
grown up in the stress of emergency. They have been shaped and
tempered by the fire of the enemy, and we saw them all, in their
many grades and classe - the wardens, the rescue and first-aid
parties, the casualty services, the decontamination squads, the
fire services, the report and control centre staffs, the highways
and public utility services, the messengers, the police. No one
could but feel how great a people, how great a nation we have
the honour to belong to. How complex, sensitive, and resilient
is the society we have evolved over the centuries, and how capable
of withstanding the most unexpected strain.
I must, however, admit that when the storm broke in September,
I was for several weeks very anxious about the result. Sometimes
the gas failed; sometimes the electricity. There were grievous
complaints about the shelters and about conditions in them. Water
was cut off, railways were cut or broken, large districts were
destroyed, thousands were killed, and many more thousands were
wounded. But there was one thing about which there was never any
doubt. The courage, the unconquerable grit and stamina of our
people, showed itself from the very outset. Without that all would
have failed. Upon that rock, all stood unshakable. All the public
services were carried on, and all the intricate arrangements,
far-reaching details, involving the daily lives of so many millions,
were carried out, improvised, elaborated, and perfected in the
very teeth of the cruel and devastating storm.
We have to ask ourselves this question: Will the bombing attacks
come back again? We have proceeded on the assumption that they
will. Many new arrangements are being contrived as a result of
the hard experience through which we have passed and the many
mistakes which no doubt we have made - for success is the result
of making many mistakes and learning from experience. If the lull
is to end, if the storm is to renew itself, we will be ready,
will will not flinch, we can take it again.
We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction.
On the contrary, if tonight our people were asked to cast their
vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing
of cities, the overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will
mete out to them the measure, and more than the measure, that
they have meted out to us." The people with one voice would
say: "You have committed every crime under the sun. Where
you have been the least resisted there you have been the most
brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We will
have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work
your wicked will. You do your worst - and we will do our best."
Perhaps it may be our turn soon; perhaps it may be our turn now.
We live in a terrible epoch of the human story, but we believe
there is a broad and sure justice running through its theme. It
is time that the enemy should be made to suffer in their own homelands
something of the torment they have let loose upon their neighbours
and upon the world. We believe it to be in our power to keep this
process going, on a steadily rising tide, month after month, year
after year, until they are either extirpated by us or, better
still, torn to pieces by their own people.
It is for this reason that I must ask you to be prepared for
vehement counter-action by the enemy. Our methods of dealing with
them have steadily improved. They no longer relish their trips
to our shores. I do not know why they do not come, but it is certainly
not because they have begun to love us more. It may be because
they are saving up, but even if that be so, the very fact that
they have to save up should give us confidence by revealing the
truth of our steady advance from an almost unarmed position to
superiority. But all engaged in our defence forces must prepare
themselves for further heavy assaults. Your organization, your
vigilance, your devotion to duty, your zeal for the cause must
be raised to the highest intensity.
We do not expect to hit without being hit back, and we intend
with every week that passes to hit harder. Prepare yourselves,
then, my friends and comrades, for this renewal of your exertions.
We shall never turn from our purpose, however sombre the road,
however grievous the cost, because we know that out of this time
of trial and tribulation will be born a new freedom and glory
for all mankind.
Luther's 95 Theses
have a dream...