Virtual event to mark 'Iron Curtain' speech anniversary

Associated Press

FULTON — A small mid-Missouri college is preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in which he warned of the former Soviet Union's expansion of communism, ushering in the era of the Cold War.

COVID-19 restrictions are forcing the commemoration on Friday at Westminster College in Fulton to be virtual. A highlight will include a panel discussion of historians, authors and other notable figures led by Washington Post columnist George Will. Plans include the debut of a documentary and a new virtual exhibit from America's National Churchill Museum at Westminster.

Livestreamed events are free and open to the public. Registration is required at the museum's website, www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org.

Westminster President Franc L. McCluer invited Churchill to speak at the college in late 1945. Perhaps surprisingly, he agreed. On March 5, 1946, just months after World War II's end, Churchill arrived, accompanied by President Harry Truman, a native Missourian.

During his speech titled "Sinews of Peace," Churchill warned that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin was expanding his communist grip throughout Eastern and Central Europe, sounding an alarm for the Western world still recovering from the war.

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent," Churchill said.