WASHINGTON – Following those inspirational D-Day ceremonies with world leaders at Normandy, other gatherings took place like the one at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.
First, troops from today’s armed services as well as several hundred civilians representing a grateful nation celebrated and honored a group of men who actually fought in World War II. All were at least in their 90s and many were wheeled out to the middle of the memorial where they were called out by name, cheered and applauded.
11 Months Later, Hitler was Surrounded
Historian Bill Federer, who produces the daily AmericanMinute.com, was on hand and told CBN News how crucial the D-Day victory was for the Allies.
He said, “160,000 troops landed. And within a couple of weeks, more than a million landed. And within a couple of months, they liberated Paris. And within 11 months, they had Hitler bottled up in Berlin.”
Prayer Replaced Presidential Chatting
President Roosevelt frequently talked to the nation during his “fireside chats,” but during D-Day, he didn’t talk – instead, he prayed for those in the fierce fight.
In the middle of that prayer, he said of those troops, “Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.”
President Trump invoked this same prayer as he marked the 75th anniversary Wednesday in Portsmouth, England.
Here in Washington, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is among many Americans who want to see that prayer placed permanently at the WWII Memorial.
‘Chose to Invoke the Almighty’
Portman told CBN News, “It is a huge part of American history in my view. On this incredibly important day, a president of the United States chose to invoke the Almighty. He chose to use prayer rather than a speech to inspire the country, to provide protection for these troops.”
In fact, FDR in his prayer said of those troops, “They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.”
Portman and Rep. Bill Johnson, another Ohio congressman, pushed legislation through Congress authorizing FDR’s prayer be added to the memorial.
No Mention of God at this Memorial
One of those first interesting Portman and Johnson in the idea was Chris Long of the Christian Alliance of America. He pointed out as of now there’s no mention of God at the memorial.
“The World War II Memorial is unique in that way,” he stated. “It’s one of the memorials that does not have a Scripture verse, a prayer or reference to God anywhere on it. So the idea, legislatively, seven years ago was to add FDR’s D-Day prayer in its entirety here at the memorial.”
Federer added, “You go to Normandy, what do you see? Crosses – 9,000 of them – and Stars of David. These were men and women of faith. And so it’s only proper that there should be some acknowledgment of faith at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.”
The only problem is no tax dollars can be expended on this effort. It has to be funded through private donations. Those interested can find out more about that at ddayprayerproject.org.
A Prayer the World Heard
Senator Portman gathered in a second ceremony Thursday with other advocates for placing FDR’s prayer at the memorial. It was in a quiet, tree-shaded area called the Circle of Remembrance. Those advocates took turns reading the prayer aloud and talking about it.
Long said of FDR, “He actually hand-wrote the prayer and it’s estimated that 100,000,000 people worldwide heard that prayer that morning. It’s the way in which FDR chose to announce to the nation that the liberation of Europe was underway.”
Portman said he’s impressed first of all that FDR did the prayer, and, “Second, the words themselves. I think the words in that prayer are what America is about: we are not a country interested in conquest. We are a country interested in liberation.”
Some may question adding the prayer to the memorial. But it would always remind the nation that on that destiny-changing June day in 1944, America knew it had to rely on more than men and military might. It had to rely on God.