Christmas Message, 1942

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Christmas Message, 1942  (1942) 
by George VI of the United Kingdom

Delivered on 25 December 1942.

It is at Christmas more than at any other time that we are conscious of the dark shadow of war. Our Christmas festival today must lack many of the happy, familiar features that it has had from our childhood. We miss the actual presence of some of those nearest and dearest, without whom our family gatherings cannot be complete.

But though its outward observances may be limited, the message of Christmas remains eternal and unchanged. It is a message of thankfulness and of hope – of thankfulness to the Almighty for His great mercies, of hope for the return to this earth of peace and goodwill.

In this spirit I wish all of you a happy Christmas. This year it adds to our happiness that we are sharing it with so many of our comrades-in-arms from the United States of America. We welcome them in our homes, and their sojourn here will not only be a happy memory for us, but, I hope, a basis of enduring understanding between our two peoples.

The recent victories won by the United Nations enable me this Christmas to speak with firm confidence about the future.

On the southern shores of the Mediterranean the First and Eighth Armies; our Fleets and Air Forces are advancing towards each other, heartened and greatly fortified by the timely and massive armies of the United States. Blows have been struck by the armies of the Soviet Union, the effects of which cannot yet be measured on the minds and bodies of the German people.

In the Pacific we watch with thrilled attention the counter-strokes of our Australian and American comrades.

India, now still threatened with Japanese invasion, has found in her loyal fighting men, more than a million strong champions to stand at the side of the British Army in defence of Indian soil.

We still have tasks ahead of us, perhaps harder even than those which we have already accomplished. We face these with confidence, for today we stand together, no longer alone, no longer ill armed, but just as resolute as in the darkest hours to do our duty whatever comes.

Many of you to whom I am speaking are far away overseas. You realise at first hand the importance and meaning of those outposts of Empire which the wisdom of our forefathers selected, and which your faithfulness will defend. For there was a danger that we should lose much, and this has opened our eyes to the value of what we might have lost.

You may be serving for the first time in Gibraltar, in Malta, in Cyprus, in the Middle East, in Ceylon, or in India. Perhaps you are listening to me from Aden or Syria, or Persia, or Madagascar or the West Indies, or you may be in the land of your birth, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.

Wherever you are serving in our wide, free Commonwealth of Nations you will always feel “at home”. Though severed by the long sea miles of distance you are still in the family circle, whose ties, precious in peaceful years, have been knit even closer by danger.

The Queen and I feel most deeply for all of you who have lost or been parted from your dear ones, and our hearts go out to you with sorrow, with comfort, but also with pride.

We send a special message of remembrance to the wounded and the sick in the hospitals wherever they may be, and to the prisoners of war, who are enduring their long exile with dignity and fortitude. Suffering and hardship shared together have given us a new understanding of each other’s problems.

The lessons learned during the past forty tremendous months have taught us how to work together after the war to build a worthier future.

On visits to war industries in every part of the country the Queen and I have watched with admiration the steady growth of that vital war production, the fruits of which are now being used by every branch of our forces. We are thankful for the splendid addition to our food supplies made by those who work on the land, and who have made it fertile as it has never been before.

Those of you who are carrying out this variety of duties so willingly undertaken in the service of your country will, I am sure, find new associations, new friendships, and new memories long to be cherished in times of peace.

So let us brace and prepare ourselves for the days which lie ahead.

Victory will bring us even greater world responsibilities, and we must not be found unequal to a task in the discharge of which we shall draw on the storehouse of our experience and tradition.

Our European Allies, their Sovereigns, heads, and Governments, whom we are glad to welcome here in their distress, count on our aid to help them return to their native lands and to rebuild the structure of a free and glorious Europe.

On the sea, on land, and in the air, and in civil life at home, a pattern of effort and mutual service is being traced which may guide those who design the picture of our future society.

A former President of the United States of America used to tell the story of a boy who was carrying an even smaller child up a hill. Asked whether the heavy burden was not too much for him, the boy answered, “It’s not a burden, it’s my brother!”

So let us welcome the future in a spirit of brotherhood, and thus make a world in which, please God, all may dwell together in justice and peace.