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Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

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Dec 30

Churchill Warned of War

Posted on December 30, 2019 at 8:50 AM by Jenny Levins

Sir Winston Churchill’s life spanned most of the world’s modern wars from 1874 to 1965. From the Red River Indian war that began in the summer of 1874 to the Vietnam War of the sixties he was alive during most of our nation’s conflicts.  In fact, war is what we most often associate with Churchill.   Perhaps this is a good time to remember something he once said on war.

“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”


My nephew Jonathan volunteered for the Marines when the war began and served in Afghanistan.  When he joined my father said he was going to quit watching the evening news. He said it was just going to be too hard to hear of unknown marines being killed and then having to wait to hear if Jonathan’s name was among them. He is safely home now, but the emotional toll of the war has affected everyone. I think it has become easier to simply ignore the war and disassociate ourselves from it than to actively follow and support it.  The war remains real mostly to those with family members still over there in danger.  The days when churches, schools, and workplaces were routinely sending over care boxes for soldiers overseas seems to have passed.

It’s important not to forget those who are still serving over there though no matter what your position on the war itself.  My nephew described Afghanistan as the dirtiest and most unsanitary place he had ever been.  He and almost every member of his company had to be given at least two intravenous IV’s while in the field to combat the numerous bouts of sickness they endured while trying to hunt through the caves for Bin Laden.  The media focuses mostly on those that have been killed or wounded in the war.  It is important to remember that all of our servicemen and women over there are suffering in one way or another.

This Sunday at 3 pm the Iredell County Public Library will be remembering another serviceman from an earlier war who gave his all for his country.  Dr. John Griffin will be here at the library to present a lecture and slide show presentation on his new book, “Lt. Bill Farrow: Doolittle Raider.” Lt. Bill Farrow was from Darlington, S.C. and volunteered during World War II to fly a B-25 medium range bomber as part of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s bombing raid on Tokyo, Japan. 

The attack which took place on April 18, 1942 was America’s response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.  Doolittle personally led 16 bombers from the USS Hornet including Lt. Farrow in an attack that shocked the Japanese and electrified the American people. Though the attack was a success lack of fuel forced all 16 planes down. On August 15, 1942, the United States learned that eight of the men who had flown in the mission were prisoners of the Japanese.  The men were starved and tortured before being given a mock trail and sentenced to death.  On October 15, 1942, three of the men including Lt. Farrow, were taken by truck to Public Cemetery No. 1 outside of Shanghai and shot. 

Dr. Griffin described Farrow as a “typical young Southern boy, yet outstanding in every way.”  Dr. Griffin holds the honorary title Distinguished Professor Emeritus with the University of South Carolina and is the author of fifteen books including “A Pictorial History of the Confederacy” and an Adele Mellen Award for his biography of noted black author Jean Toomer.  The program is free and no registration is required.

Joel Reese, Local History Librarian

Iredell County Public Library

This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “It’s important not to forget those still serving in Iraq” on March 20, 2007