Our country was isolationist to some extent at that time, ruled over by a cadre that wished to avoid entanglement in Europe’s fight. Even our ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, was convinced that Great Britain could not survive. One man, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, felt differently, and wanted to help Britain survive, but he needed authoritative input from their government to convince our country that we should help. Winston Churchill was the key player to supply that information. Roosevelt put his trust in one man, Harry Hopkins, a close aide, to fly to Britain and find out the true story of their situation. With the information he needed, Roosevelt felt he could sway the U.S. into granting a program of support.
Hopkins served as secretary of commerce for a short time, was a good listener and could get to the people that could give answers to tough questions. Churchill convinced Hopkins that with weapons, ships and airplanes Great Britain was worth the investment and could turn the tide against the Third Reich. On Jan. 14, 1941, five days after discussions had started, Hopkins raised his glass at a farewell dinner and spoke one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century: “I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return. I am going to quote a verse from the Old Testament Book of Ruth. ‘Whither thou goest, I will go and wherever thy lodgeth I will lodge. Thy people will be my people and thy God my God.” Churchill, with tears streaming down his face, sat transfixed, knowing that the Empire would survive. Hopkins’ report carried the day for the Lend-Lease passage through Congress in spite of isolationist sentiment, and the world survived a near catastrophe.
Where are the statesmen today who care more for their country than themselves and can discuss in an amiable atmosphere the future of the nation without bitter ill will? Our future depends on it!
“I called, You answered” refers to a hymn we sing in church, requesting divine intervention. You would be surprised how this action brings us answers and hope for the future. Why don’t you try it?
Robert D. Campbell, an essayist who lives in Newburyport, believes that a sense of humor is essential.