FULTON — Robert L. Hawkins Jr. watched the unveiling of a sculpture on Friday showing Winston Churchill delivering his famous "Sinews of Peace" speech.
Sixty-five years ago, he saw the real thing.
“I remember the auditorium was packed. Mr. Truman was here,” said Hawkins, then a 23-year-old student at Westminster College. “I realized it was a historic and significant statement about the division between the communist world and the free world.”
The 13-foot, 800-pound, bronze bas relief sculpture was unveiled outside the National Churchill Museum at Westminster. It commemorates the 1946 address on campus in which Churchill coined the term "Iron Curtain" for the post-World War II barrier between Western Europe and the Soviet bloc. The piece had been scheduled to be unveiled at the annual Churchill Weekend in March, but it wasn't finished then.
Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, attended the event Friday. With her vibrant red hair and turquoise jewelry, she beamed as she spoke of her grandfather and the mark he made on history.
“We are here today to honor art, not war,” Sandys said. “It is art that keeps history alive.”
Sandys contributed a piece of her work to Westminster in 1990. The sculpture "Breakthrough" was constructed from pieces of the Berlin Wall, still painted with graffiti. Sandys said her work represents the end of the Cold War and the new one represents its beginning — “Bookends made in sculpture,” she said.
The sculptor of the new piece, Don Wiegand of St. Louis, thanked everyone who was involved in the more than two-year creation process and adamantly called it a group effort. Careful examination of photographs taken during Churchill's speech helped ensure historical accuracy of every detail, he said.
And like the effect of the speech, the sculpture will stand the test of time.
“I’m proud to say this bronze will last for centuries,” Wiegand said.
Also speaking at the event were Richard J. Mahoney, a Churchill Fellowwith The Churchill Trust, and Rob Havers, executive director of the National Churchill Museum. After thanking the audience, Mahoney credited the former British prime minister for the sudden pleasant change in the shifting weather Friday.
“Thank you, Mr. Churchill, your spirit has just brought the sun out on us,” Mahoney said.
Havers said it's important for every generation to have an appreciation of history. The sculpture and the museum are a way to keep that alive, he said.
"It is a great day to be a Churchillian," Havers said.