- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

Champagne. Cream-soaked entrees. Billowing plumes of cigar smoke.

Today’s politically-correct, calorie-conscious politicos wouldn’t have stepped foot in the vice-filled den that was the Lansdowne Resort’s dining room Friday night.

Sir Winston Churchill, on the other hand, would have felt right at home.

Which is precisely why the sixth annual Lansdowne Churchill Dinner embraced the humor, courage and, yes, the decadent treats loved by the great British statesman.

Even the beef Wellington, oyster bisque with Devon cream and cracked pepper seared turbot paid homage: a repast that hewed closely to the one Mr. Churchill ate on his 88th birthday at London’s Savoy Hotel, including, of course, his favorite vintage Pol Roger champagne.

“When you met Churchill it was like meeting Napoleon or Julius Caesar,” said the evening’s guest speaker, longtime Churchill biographer James C. Humes. The words the English warrior told the author when they met in 1953 wouldn’t soon be forgotten.

“Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft,” Mr. Humes recounted, approximating Mr. Churchill’s blustery speech patterns to great effect.

The author of “Winston Churchill,” “The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill” and “Eisenhower and Churchill: The Partnership That Saved the World” also speculated that Mr. Churchill would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States today in the current war on global terror.

“As his grandson [Winston Spencer Churchill] has said, he’d be supporting us just like [Prime Minister] Blair is doing,” Mr. Humes said. “There’s no question.”

The black-tie event drew 150 cigar-puffing Churchill aficionados who paid tribute to their hero by bestowing the Finest Hour award on Col. Van T. Barfoot of the U.S. Army. The Medal of Honor-winner captured 17 enemy soldiers, disabled a tank and helped three critically wounded comrades traverse 1,700 yards to safely during World War II.

Former Rep. Greg Laughlin of Texas, National Review contributor Jed Babbin, Medal of Honor recipient Ron Ray, and David A. Sampson, assistant secretary of Commerce for economic development, joined in the celebration. Even WTOP’s “Man About Town,” Bob Madigan, got into the spirit, a hand-rolled cigar squeezed between his grin.

Gerard P. Dumont, Lansdowne’s vice president and general manager, said Mr. Churchill’s life was worthy of continued respect and examination.

“Churchill’s words today are as meaningful as they were five decades ago,” said Mr. Dumont, who started the Churchill dinner tradition 10 years ago at Princeton and moved it to Lansdowne four years later.

Mr. Babbin observed that the lessons of World War II could tell us plenty about the current crisis in Iraq, and the forthcoming elections as well.

“The dogged persistence of Churchill, his refusal to surrender, it’s a lesson lost on one of the presidential candidates,” Mr. Babbin noted.

U.S. Marine Col. Harvey “Barney” Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, said thoughts of Mr. Churchill came to mind while watching Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi address Congress Thursday.

The embattled leader described the raging insurgency but promised not to buckle despite the mounting death toll.

“[He’s] the Churchill of the 21st century,” Capt. Barnum said.

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