Tag Archives: Churchill

Overlord: D +70 years



Last night at my Toastmasters group, Speak with Ease in Lafayette, Colorado, I gave my seventh speech since joining the group. The seventh speech in the Competent Communicator Manual is one where you are supposed to research your topic to support any statistics, facts or stated information that you bring to the table. I did not actually plan on giving a speech last night since I had given my sixth speech last week. The Toastmaster assigned for last evening had requested that I continue to give a speech this week because if I did not there would only be one speech on the docket for last night.

I decided since we are coming up on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, that I would do a speech on this pivotal event in World War II history. The date June 6, 1944 is a date that no one will ever forget. It is a pivotal day in the history of the world where the forces of good began the quest to vanquish the forces of evil. There was never a time when the two sides were more clear-cut as good and evil. I think Americans have lost some of the ideals that brought us all together in the 1940s to fight this war and win this great victory. I think in some respects it behooves us all to take a look at what happened on this particular day and remember with reverence and solemnity.

Toastmasters as an organization, has given me an incredible confidence in standing before a group of people and talking about various subjects. I thoroughly enjoy the Table Topics portion of our meetings because you are forced to think quickly and succinctly in a group environment. The questions at this particular point in the meeting are very much akin to what occurs during a job interview. You can prepare for almost every question but you can be sure that your interviewer will probably ask you something that you never even thought of once the interview kicks off a gets underway. If I had to choose between many of the various outside activities I’ve been involved with and Toastmasters, I would choose Toastmasters and jettison everything else because I know that making yourself a better speaker is tantamount to putting more dollars in your pocket as a much better communicator.

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Dogged Determination

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The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

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Adversity Strikes

There are times in your life when you find yourself dealing with adversity.  You may be going through divorce, looking for a new job, lost your job, grieving for the loss of a loved one, or starting a business from scratch.  As Thomas Paine so eloquently wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Now I am not one to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, but I do believe that how we handle our times of trial will propel us into the next adventure.  If there were no bad times, there would be no fundamental area for comparison.  The bad times are when dogged determination is most necessary to stay positive and on track.

What would George Do?

There are a few different instances from history where the odds were stacked so heavily in one side’s favor that the outcome seemed almost without doubt.  One of the earliest Americans who showed dogged determination was George Washington.  In the summer and fall of 1776 the Continental Army was routinely battered and defeated by combined British arms.  Washington heroically defended Long Island which was the back door to New York City.  The British pushed the Continental Army off Long Island and pursued the Continentals up through the Bronx and into Westchester culminating at the Battle of White Plains where Washington was once again defeated.  The Continental Army then began a retreat whereby they evacuated and gave up New York City and Long Island for the rest of the war.

Choose the Unexpected Route

There were rear guard actions that were fought all the way across New Jersey.  This steady retreat took place throughout the fall of 1776.  As winter approached, Washington was faced with a dilemma: should he continue to retreat and keep his army intact so that the war could continue or should he recommend to the Continental Congress that they look for ways to end the war in the face of overwhelming odds and increasingly costly defeats?  Washington decided to stake everything on one last gamble.  The British army had enlisted Hessian mercenaries from Germany’s Hesse-Cassell region to fight the colonials.  As Christmas approached and the Continental Army continued to retreat across New Jersey, Washington decided to strike back.  Late on the evening of Christmas Eve 1776, the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River from the west side where they had retreated back to the east side and the city of Trenton where the Hessians were billeted for Christmas.  The Continentals took the Hessian soldiers completely by surprise and captured many of them along with their guns.  This was a completely unexpected turn of events, and the battle and victory at Trenton gave notice that General George Washington was going to see this conflict through to a final victory.  This was American dogged determination in its finest hour.

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 Sir Winston the Intractable

Another instance of dogged determination was shown by Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II.  By the early summer of 1940, NAZI armies had vanquished Western Europe.  The British Expeditionary Force which was sent to France to stop the German invasion barely escaped destruction during the evacuation from Dunkirk.  The British army escaped, but all of their armaments and equipment were left on the beaches in France.  The German Luftwaffe began a campaign against all of the Royal Air Force bases in the southern areas of England.  Their aim was to eradicate the RAF.  Slowly but surely, the destruction of the RAF air bases and fighters began to take a toll.  It was at this point that RAF Bomber Command decided to send a small contingent of bombers to Berlin.  This small raid on Berlin had the same effect that the Doolittle raid had on Tokyo (see Battle of Midway for more information).

The Luftwaffe switched targets to British cities which gave the RAF needed breathing room to refit, regroup and meet the new threat.  This small air force was instrumental in inflicting the first defeat of any kind on NAZI Germany.  Churchill was the preeminent mouthpiece that vocalized in eloquent speech how the British would react to any possible invasion force.  They would never give up, they would never surrender, they would never submit and they would keep on fighting to the last man and the last round.  This is another case of dogged determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

Don’t Crumble, Fight On

Whenever adversity creeps into your own life remember that the darkest times are the ones that build your character.  Use your dogged determination to get you through to the next level.  You can win against all odds if you believe that you can win.  A person who knows their SELF is impervious to the slings and arrows of any and all aggressors.  Use your dogged determination and win!

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