Churchill’s granddaughter to come to A&M
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 00:10
Sir Winston Churchill — soldier, historian, writer, politician — is considered by many to be one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. His granddaughter, Celia Sandys, will visit A&M on Oct. 25 to share her story of life with her grandfather.
Sandys has published five books on the former British prime minister’s life and leadership in the 20th century. The event will be held at 10:30 a.m. in Rudder Auditorium and sponsored by the Texas A&M University Press.
Charles Backus, press director for the Texas A&M University Press, said the event is coming to A&M because University Press is reprinting paperback editions of two of Sandys’ books that have been out of print.
Sandys said she started writing about Churchill twenty years ago. She had not planned on it, but she found the idea to be irresistible.
“I went to a cousin’s house for tea and there was a box on the table with letters from my grandfather’s childhood,” Sandys said. “I said someone should do something with them. My cousin said, ‘You do it.’”
Sandys said she plans to speak about her memories with Churchill and his inspiring leadership when she visits the campus. She was 21 when Churchill died, and Sandys said she has many memories of her grandfather and his inspiring traits.
“Two things that inspired me about my grandfather were his courage and communication,” Sandys said. “He had the moral courage to carry on when others denied that his ideas were right. And if you can’t communicate, you can’t do anything.”
R.J.Q Adams, Texas A&M distinguished history professor, said Churchill interests many people because of his long career and involvement in many events that affected the world in the 20th century.
“My guess is she’s going to talk not just about Churchill’s career, but also the endurance of the Churchill legend,” Adams said. “We’re all interested in Churchill. Even if he had not lived as long as he did, he would have had a fantastic career.”
Adams said he encouraged people to attend the event. He has spoken to his own students about the event, reminding them of the novelty of Sandys’ presentation due to her close relationship with Churchill.
“Grandparents have a special relationship with their grandkids, which makes Sandys’ books even more interesting,” Adams said. “The things she is going to talk about are the stuff that’s not dealt with in history books.”
David Vaught, head of the Department of History at A&M, also said chances to attend an event like this do not come often.
“My message for students: How many chances will you get to hear someone who knew Churchill — a historical figure of immense stature — so very well for much of her life,” Vaught said. “Do not pass up this opportunity.”
Students are already expressing interest in the event. Brian Johnson, sophomore history major, is excited for the event due to the history associated with Churchill.
“Churchill is undoubtedly one of the more prominent, and most recognized, figures of the 20th century,” Johnson said. “The special view of him that a family member can give is a special thing.”
The event is open to the public and free, and Adams said he hopes more people than just A&M students and staff will attend. He said the uniqueness of this event is one example of why A&M is a great University.
“We’re not just great at academics and sports,” Adams said. “We are also able to play host to people of this kind. It’s a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate students and for the community.”
Backus said Sandys will speak twice while at A&M, once at 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center as well as the Oct. 25 event in Rudder Auditorium that is open to the public. After her speeches, Backus said Sandys will attend the football game against Vanderbilt and will be honored on the reviewing stand for the Corps of Cadets march-in.
Sandys said she is excited for her visit to Texas and the U.S., which she said Churchill called “his other country,” because his mother was American.
“I am very happy to be coming to Texas,” Sandys said. “I enjoy Texas and have always received warm welcomes.”