American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Mrs. Miniver" (1942)


Vicar's War Address to Congregation (The Wilcoxon Speech)

Audio mp3 delivered by Henry Wilcoxon


I will read to you from Psalm number 91:

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him, will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.1  

We, in this quiet corner of England, have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us; some close to this church: George West, choir boy; James Ballard, station master and bell ringer and a proud winner, only an hour before his death, of the Beldon Cup for his beautiful Miniver rose; and our hearts go out in sympathy for the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago.

The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There's scarcely a household that hasn't been struck to the heart.

And why? Surely you must have asked yourselves this question. Why, in all conscience, should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness. Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed?

I shall tell you why.

Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people, of all the people, and it must be fought not only on the battlefield but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home, and in the heart of every man, woman, and child who loves freedom.

Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them.

Instead they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves and those who come after us from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down.

This is the people's war!

It is our war!

We are the fighters! Fight it, then! Fight it with all that is in us!

And may God defend the right.

1 King James Version (delivered slightly out of order from the original text)

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