Winston Churchill biographer, great-grandchildren arrive in Fulton for reception, preparation for Kemper Lecture

Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Winston Churchill, chats with attendees of tonight's cocktail and dinner reception to kickoff the National Churchill Museum's annual "Churchill Weekend."

Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Winston Churchill, chats with attendees of tonight's cocktail and dinner reception to kickoff the National Churchill Museum's annual "Churchill Weekend." Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Churchillians near and far gathered tonight to honor one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century — Winston Churchill.

This weekend has been dedicated as the National Churchill Museum's "Churchill Weekend." The annual celebration remembers the man who delivered the famous "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College nearly 68 years ago on March 5, 1946.

This year's Churchill Weekend is unique, though, with several special guests attending.

Randolph Churchill and Jennie Churchill Repard, Winston Churchill's great grandchildren, were in Fulton tonight for a cocktail and dinner reception along with Paul Reid, this year's Kemper Lecture speaker. Reid helped author William Manchester finished the final installation on a three-part series about Winston Churchill's life titled, "The Last Lion."

"He alone fighting saved Western civilization long enough for the U.S. to step in," Reid said.

Randolph called being a descendent of Winston Churchill a "great privilege" and said he is able to meet "such amazing and fascinating people" wherever he travels.

"It makes me feel really proud people remember what sacrifice Americans and Brits gave during the second World War," Randolph Churchill said.

Reid said tomorrow's 2 p.m. lecture will be have a Q&A format in order to be more of a conversation than a true lecture. When Winston Churchill spoke, Reid said, he engaged his audiece and he's wanting to do the same tomorrow.

"They don't want a lecture," Reid said. "A modern audience wants a dialogue."

The discussion will focus on Reid's writing process, but he said there are two lessons he hopes people take away. One, he said, is that Winston Churchill saved Western civilzation and it's "blossoming and being enjoyed" in part because of him. The second lesson is how cruel and powerful leaders can drastically change life. He said Americans were reminded of this on Sept. 11, 2001.

"(Life) can change in a moment," Reid said. "Tyranny, dictators can change life for the worst."

With those ideas in mind, Reid said people should reflect on what their roles are in ensuring Western civilization is maintained.

As for Randolph Churchill, he said he hopes people will be reminded how fragile civil liberties can be.

"We take freedom for granted and it's not until someone steals that freedom to remember how lucky we all really are," he said.

Randolph Churchill will give a speech to those attending a brunch tomorrow before the lecture.

Reid, who has met many of Winston Churchill's descendents, said each has lived out Winston Churchill's "message of respect for others" and respect for Western traditions.

"They're a 'helluva' family as Harry Truman would say," Reid said.

The Kemper Lecture will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. inside the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury and is free to the public.

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