This Year’s Quotation: “The human race cannot progress without idealism."

(Note: Each year a different Churchill quote will be given as a prompt for the creation of the prepared oration.)

Origin of the quote:  April 12, 1942. (The Second World War, Volume 4, page 194)

This quote came out of a discussion on India’s proposed independence during World War II. There was a deadlock between India and the British Empire. Roosevelt wrote Churchill asking him to keep the Lord Privy Seal (Delhi) in India a little longer to make a final effort at negotiating India’s independence. Roosevelt wanted to see if India and the British Empire could agree on allowing India to set up a Nationalist government on a trial basis. At the end of the trial, India and the British Empire would decide on their future relationship.

Churchill’s reaction to Roosevelt’s letter was one of one of disapproval.

“I was thankful that events had already made such an act of madness impossible. The human race cannot make progress without idealism, but idealism at other people’s expense and without regard to the consequences of ruin and slaughter which fall upon millions of humble homes cannot be considered as its highest or noblest form…”

“…There was still hope and the chance that all could be repaired and that we should not fail in our duty to preserve…Indian society…Without the integrity of executive military control and the power to govern in the war area hope and chance alike would perish. This was no time for a constitutional experiment with a “period of trial and error” to determine the “future relationship” of India to the British Empire…We could not desert the Indian peoples by abandoning our responsibility and leaving them to anarchy or subjugation…”

How a Missouri middle school student becomes involved in the contest:

Students in grades 6-8 are eligible to compete.  Each school should hold its own contest (at least 2 weeks in advance of the zone competition) in order to advance one student to the zone level.  The state will be divided into 4 zones, and each zone will have a contest at the place and on the date indicated, with one student from each zone advancing to the state level.  Zone winners will compete against one another at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton.  A student who wins the State Championship is not eligible to compete at any level of the competition again in any other school year.

The names of the school winners should be reported to Mr. Randy Pierce, co-chair of the contest, at in order to create a random schedule of speaker order for the zone level. The deadline for registering a school winner for the zone competition is listed.  At least three judges will be used at the zone level. 

Questions up to and including the day of the Zone contest can be answered by phoning Ms. Rebecca Pierce, co-chair of the contest, at 314-971-1247.

Winners from the four zones must bring a completed Registration Form to the State competition February 20, 2017.

General Rules

  1. Each contestant is to prepare his or her own speech.  However, the contestant may receive limited advice in the preparation of the speech and may make minor changes in the speech at any time during the steps of the contest.  A typewritten copy of the speech must be provided to the contest coordinator at all levels of competition before the speech is given.
  2. The speech is to be 4-5 minutes long and will be timed while being given at each level.  (There will be penalties assigned if the time limit is not followed.)  Contestants may choose to use their scripts during the delivery or may choose to deliver the words from memory.  (There will be no penalty if a script is used.)  However, this will be judged as a speech, not as an essay, and skills such as eye contact and vocal variety will be assessed.
  3. Students are asked to respond to and to reflect on the meaning of the quote, both as it applies to themselves personally, as well as its relevancy in the 21st century.
  4. Speeches will be judged on content as well as delivery, with the judging criteria reflecting these two areas and explained in the scoring/penalty sections.

Contest Rules

  1. All contestants must speak on the official topic.  The Churchill quote for the current year must be included at some point in the text of the speech. Failure to do so will result in a 5-point penalty.
  2. Any quotation or copyrighted material used in the speech must be identified verbally during the presentation and in the written copy of the speech with the original author’s name.  The contestant shall be fully responsible for the use of any quoted material and the National Churchill Museum shall assume no responsibility.  Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.  
  3. The use of props, special costumes or clothing, or the use of prompters, will not be permitted.  The penalty will be disqualification.
  4. Contestants will not be identified by name or sponsoring school/town until after the last speaker has finished.  Judges and the official timekeeper will not be in the room during these introductions. 


All scoring on the school, zone, and state level will conform to these specifications.  Ballot templates will be available to reproduce and to use on the school level, with the same form to be used by judges on the zone and state level as well.

  1. Content of speech (subject adherence, thesis, content, logic and organization) - 40 points
  2. Delivery/presentation (vocal clarity/variety, volume and eye contact) - 40 points
  3. Overall effectiveness (audience appeal and sincerity) - 20 points
  4. Penalties
    1. 1 point - for each 15 seconds or fraction of over or under the allotted time
    2. 5 points - for any mention of name or school or hometown, or for failure to include the assigned Churchill quotation
    3. Disqualification - for failure to identify non-original material or for use of props or special costumes/clothing


  1. All Zone and State contest participants
    1. Certificate of Congratulations
  2. 1st Place State
    1. Engraved plaque made from a tree on Blenheim Palace property
    2. Special invitation to speak at the annual Churchill Weekend Kemper Brunch
    3. Special invitation to attend the annual Churchill Weekend Kemper Brunch & Lecture
    4. Museum t-shirt
  3. 2nd Place State
    1. Special invitation to attend the annual Churchill Weekend Kemper Brunch & Lecture
    2. Museum t-shirt
  4. 3rd-4th Place State
    1. Invitation to attend the annual Churchill Weekend Kemper Lecture
    2. Museum t-shirt

Local Competition Deadline Dates for each Zone

January 4, 2017: Kansas City, MO zone

January 5, 2017: Springfield, MO zone

January 10, 2017: Mid-MO zone

January 12, 2017: St. Louis, MO zone

January 17, 2017: Out-of-state 

Zone Competition Dates & Locations

January 18, 2017: Kansas City and vicinity

January 19, 2017: Springfield and vicinity

January 24, 2017: Mid-MO vicinity

January 26, 2017: St. Louis and vicinity

January 31, 2017: Out-of-state

Note:  All Zone contests will be held at 7:00 p.m. on the date indicated.

State Finals

Monday, February 20, 2017 [Presidents Day] (Alternate Inclement Weather date:  Saturday, February 25, 2017)
Location: National Churchill Museum, located at 501 Westminster Ave (Fulton, MO 65251)


“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”

Winston S. Churchill