Examples of eulogies
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)
By Sir Robert Menzies, Australian Prime Minister (1894 – 1978)
At St Paul’s Cathedral on 30th January, 1965.
As this historic procession goes through the streets of London to Tower Pier, I have the honour of speaking to you from the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. I do this in two capacities. One is that I, Prime Minister of Australia, happen to be, in point of time, the senior Commonwealth Prime Minister, and therefore speak on behalf of a remarkable world organisation which owes more than it can ever express to our departed leader, Sir Winston Churchill. He is one of the famous men whom we thank and praise.
My second capacity is more personal and more intimate. I am sure that you, most of you, have thought about Sir Winston Churchill a great deal, and with warmth in your hearts and in your recollections. Some day, some year, there will be old men and women whose pride it will be to say: “I lived in Churchill’s time.” Some will be able to say: “I saw him, and I heard him – the unforgettable voice and the immortal words.” And some will be able to say: “I knew him, and talked with him, and was his friend.”
This I can, with a mix of pride and humility, say for myself. The memory of this moves me deeply now that he is dead, but is gloriously remembered by me as he goes to his burial amid the sorrow, and pride, and thanks, of all of you who stand and feel for yourselves and for so many millions.
Many of you will not need to be reminded, but some, the younger among you, the inheritors of his master-strokes for freedom, may be glad to be told that your country, and mine, and all the free countries of the world, stood at the very gates of destiny in 1940 and 1941 when the Nazi tyranny threatened to engulf us, and when there was no “second front” except our own. This was a great crucial moment of modern history. What was at stake was not some theory of government but the whole and personal freedom of men, women, and children. And the battle for them was a battle against great odds. That battle had to be won not only in the air and on the sea and in the field, but in the hearts and minds of ordinary people with a deep capacity for heroism. It was then that Winston Churchill was called, by Almighty God, as our faith makes us believe, to stand as our leader and our inspirer.
There were, in 1940, defeatists, who felt that prudence required submission or such terms as might be had. There were others who, while not accepting the inevitability of defeat, thought that victory was impossible. Winston Churchill scorned to fall into either category, and he was right. With courage, and matchless eloquence, and human understanding, he inspired us and led us to victory.
In the whole of recorded modern history, this was, I believe, the one occasion when one man, with one soaring imagination, with one fire burning in him, and one unrivalled capacity for conveying it to others, won a crucial victory not only for the forces (for there were many heroes in those days) but for the very spirit of human freedom. And so, on this great day, we thank him, and we thank God for him.
There are two other things I want to say to you, on a day which neither you nor I will ever willingly forget. One is that Winston Churchill was not an institution, but a man, a man of wit and chuckling humour, and penetrating understanding, not a man who spoke to us from the mountain tops, but who expressed the simple and enduring feelings of ordinary men and women. It was because he was a great Englishman that he was able to speak for the English people. It was because he was a great commonwealth statesman that he was able to warm the hearts and inspire courage right round the seven seas. It was because he was a great human being that, in our darkest days, he lit the lamps of hope at many firesides and released so many from the chains of despair. We must, and do, thank God for him, and strive to be worthy of his example.
The second thing I will never forget is this. Winston Churchill’s wife is with us here in London; a great and gracious lady in her own right. Could I today send her your love, and mine? She has suffered an irreparable personal loss. But she has proud and enduring memories. Happy memories, I venture to say. We share her sorrow, but I know that she would wish us to share with her those rich remembrances which the thought of the great man evokes.
There have been, in the course of recorded history, some men of power who have cast shadows across the world. Winston Churchill, on the contrary, was a fountain of light and hope.
As I end my talk to you from the crypt of St Paul’s, with its reminders of Nelson and Wellington, those marvellous defenders of long ago, the body of Winston Churchill goes in procession through the streets of London; his London, our London, this most historic city, this ancient home of freedom, this place through which, in the very devastation and fire of war, his voice rang out with courage, and defiance, and hope, and rugged confidence.
His body will be carried on the Thames, a river full of history. With one heart we all feel, with one mind we all acknowledge, that it will never have borne a more precious burden, or been enriched by more splendid memories.
Duff Cooper, 1st Viscount Norwich, diplomat, politician and author (1890 – 1954)
Duff Cooper is particularly remembered for being a public critic of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy in the 1930s. He resigned from Chamberlain’s Cabinet in 1938 over the Munich Agreement with Hitler. He is also remembered as an outstanding ambassador to France from 1944 to 1947 and for his marriage to the legendary beauty, Lady Diana Cooper.
By Bob Boothby, Conservative politician (1900 – 1986)
At St Margaret’s, Westminster on 7th January, 1954.
I have been asked by Diana to say a few words about Duff. It is an almost impossible task, but one that could not be refused. I cannot claim to have been one of his most intimate friends. They belong to that remarkable generation which met the full impact of the First World War; and hardly one survived it.
This left a deep imprint on the mind of Duff Cooper, as indeed it did upon the minds of all of us who were old enough to see the heros of our youth consigned to that terrible furnace. Duff passed with great gallantry through it, but the experience struck to the very depths of his soul. He neither forgot nor forgave.
There are only two things that I want to say about him today. The first is that, in an age once described by the late Lord Baldwin as ‘scorched and cynical’ he was one of the comparatively few who felt deeply and passionately about public affairs. His sincerity was beyond dispute; and he was also fearless. This gave to his resignation speech that particular quality which will never be forgotten by those who heard it. In conversation he was a fine and intrepid talker, with a capacity for righteous fury which delighted his friends and dismayed only the pompous and the dull.
The second thing I want to mention was his gift, amounting almost to genius, for friendship. The late Charles Masterman gave to Arnold Bennett a great epitaph. When he was dying he said to his wife: ‘If you are in any difficulty or trouble – ever – go to Arnold. He’s the man.’ That was high praise, and it could be applied in equal measure to Duff. he was absolute for friendship; and at his best in the company of his friends. When he came into a room you felt a glow. You said to yourself: ‘This is going to be stimulating and jolly’ – and so, unfailingly, it was. Innumerable were the services which he rendered to his friends; and, in the main, unknown. They were not only given on the occasions of the great disasters of life. If any of them said a foolish thing, or wrote a foolish letter – and some of Duff’s friends were addicted to both – there was no trouble he would not take to extricate them. Whatever position he might be holding, he always found time to go and see the man, or the men, or the committee involved, and sooth ruffled feelings and smooth over difficulties. This cannot be said of everyone.
In his autobiography he referred more than once to the autumn, his favourite period of the year.
‘We will not weep that spring is past,
And autumn shadows fall,
These years shall be, although the last,
The loveliest of all.’
Thus he wrote in the dedication. The years were not vouchsafed, and this must be a matter of regret. But we should mourn, I think, nothing except our own loss. There is much to be thankful for. His marriage was a perfect thing. He wrote books that will live. he was a great ambassador – one of the very greatest. His political career will be remembered for an act of signal courage when most others are forgotten. Last, but not least, in the setting provided for him by Diana with such loving care, he led a full and rounded life and enjoyed much happiness – more, perhaps, than is given to most of us. For all this he was grateful, and said so; and when the summons came he was ready to go.
Steve Irwin, Australian conservationist and TV personality (1962 – 2006)
Steve Irwin, known as the crocodile hunter died after being stung by a stingray whilst snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.
By Bindi Irwin, his eight year old daughter who wrote the eulogy herself.
At the Australia Zoo, Queensland on 20th September, 2006.
My Daddy was my hero – he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun.
I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live.
He took me and my brother and my Mum with him all the time. We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together.
I don’t want Daddy’s passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.
I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it’s our turn to help Daddy.
John F Kennedy, American President (1917 – 1963)
President Kennedy was thirty-fifth President of the United States serving from 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.
By Senator Jacob Javits, American politician (1904 – 1986)
At a Senate memorial Service in December 1963.
Mr President, hundreds of thousands of words have been published, and hundreds of thousands more have been spoken into the microphones of the world since John F Kennedy was struck down in Dallas, but none of them were really adequate. Words never are in the face of senseless tragedy.Words cannot describe how the American people felt when they lost their president. Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realize how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the president – this intellectual, vigorous young man – and he would have been that if he were eighty – expressing the very essence of the youthfulness of our nation. It seems of little consequence now that there were political differences, or objections to this or that legislative product, though as far as I am concerned there was a large measure of agreement. What matters is that feeling of loss – that personal sense of emptiness – that all Americans feel because their president was cut off in the prime of life. As a nation, we have lost a president who understood the institution of the presidency, glorified in its overwhelming responsibilities, and discharged his duties with dash and joy, which were an inspiration to the youth of our nation.
But John F Kennedy was more than that. he was a man filled with the joy of living. He was a husband, a father – and my friend.
For myself, I remember coming to Congress the same day he did. We were sworn in together on the same January day in 1947. A photograph on my office wall shows that we two, returning veterans, looked a little uncomfortable at the moment in our civilian clothes. It shows us looking at the Taft-Ellander-Wagner housing bill, and it recalls the first job we did together when we called on the National Veterans Housing Conference of 1947, which we had organised, to back this bill. It was the beginning of an association which extended throughout our careers in the House and Senate. We collaborated in many bipartisan matters, as is not unusual in the Congress. Indeed, in our service together in the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, we worked closely – as did Senator Morse and others – on the minimum wage bill, the labor-Management Disclosure Act, and other similar measures which were major aspects of Senator Kennedy’s legislative career.
I am a personal witness to the fact that he was resourceful, optimistic, and creative. He became and was my friend, and this is a deep source of gratification to me and to Mrs Javits and our family.
Mrs Javits, too, knew President Kennedy well and admired him greatly. She will, I know, always think of the president’s graciousness and the warmth of personal friendship which he exuded.
Only a week before his tragic passing, I saw him in the Oval Room at the White House when he accepted the report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Care for the Aged, in which Senator Anderson and I joined, and issued a statement offering encouragement and help.
He was vigorous, and healthy and smiling and friendly – a complete human being, concerned about other human beings who were no longer vigorous and not quite as healthy as they used to be.
This concern for the unfortunate by a man with all of the social graces and all the social status and as much power as America allows one man was what made him so much the symbol of the youth of our country. His wife, Jacqueline, who has given Americans so much reason to be very proud of her and of all American womanhood as she reflected in it, in these last mournful weeks, in the way she carried herself, has said the most beautiful tribute – that John F Kennedy had the “hero idea of history,” and that she did not want people to forget John F Kennedy – the man – and replace him with some shadowy figure in the history books.
She need not fear that. There are already thousands upon thousands of people in the world working to keep his memory alive. I have been privileged to join with many others in this body in cosponsoring a bill to rename the National Cultural Center and making it a living, vibrant memorial to this vibrant man who loved the arts. And with Senator Humphrey, I have joined in a bill establishing a commission to ensure that only the most appropriate memorials be created in his honor.
These are well-meaning, deeply sincere tokens – necessary, but still tokens. In reality it will be John F Kennedy’s youthful freshness in his aspirations for our country that will keep his memory fresh.
In a real sense we, his former colleagues in the Congress, are the only ones with the power to write words which can transform these aspirations into memorials with meaning. We can write legislative acts, like a meaningful civil rights law, which would consecrate and perpetuate John F Kennedy’s love for personal and national dignity. We can exorcise from our country – and the American people are doing that even now – those extremes of hatred and disbelief in public affairs which create a climate in which terrible acts become much more likely.
Acts such as these will be his final memorials. It is within our power to establish them. Perhaps his noblest memorial is that he would have wanted such memorials almost as no others.
So in common with my colleagues in this solemn service – and that is what this is today – I bespeak for Mrs Javits and my children – and I would place their names in the Record, so that as they read this Record when they grow up, I hope they will read their names in it and see that their father spoke with deep sympathy – Joy, Joshua, and Carla, to Mrs Kennedy and the children, and to the president’s father and mother and his brothers and sisters and their families our deepest sympathy on this terrible bereavement, for our nation and for all mankind, and in the deep expectation that flowers will grow from his grave for the benefit of man.