Outside the British Embassy on Washington’s Embassy Row is Winston Churchill, a statue with a foot in two countries. Churchill’s father was the Duke of Marlborough. But his mother was an American from Brooklyn, NY. So, when it came time to commemorate Churchill’s life, planting a bronze foot in both countries was an ideal way to recognize both the British-American alliance that was key to winning WWII in Europe as well as the former prime minister’s ancestry. On his 89th birthday when he learned where the statue would be placed Churchill said, “I feel it will rest happily and securely on both feet.”
The statue was unveiled by Secretary of State Dean Rusk in 1966, a year after Churchill’s death. Done by William McVey, it shows Churchill striding forward with a cigar in one hand and his V for victory salute in the other. The statue stands on soil from three significant places in his life: Blenheim Palace, where he was born; Chartwell, his home in Kent, and Brooklyn, his mother’s birthplace.
During a speech to a joint session of Congress the day after Christmas in 1941 Churchill wryly commented “I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own.” In 1963 Congress and the president made him an honorary US citizen. He is one of only two people granted this honor while still alive (the other is Mother Teresa).