Dept. of Interior: Adding FDR’s D-Day Prayer to WWII Memorial Would ‘Dilute' Its 'Central Message'

November 8, 2011 - 6:51 AM
WWII Memorial

World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

(CNSNews.com) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the Interior Department, says adding President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., would “dilute” the memorial’s message and its ability to “inspire” visitors.

H.R. 2070, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), would place a plaque bearing the text of President Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer for U.S. troops at the memorial.

“It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the memorial in this way, as proposed in H.R. 2070, will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate, and inspire its many visitors,” BLM Director Robert Abbey told a House subcommittee November 3.

Roosevelt, in one of his fireside chats, asked Americans to pray with him for the success of American troops carrying out the invasion of occupied Europe on June 6, 1944. The battle had been raging all day:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” Roosevelt prayed.

“Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.” (See full prayer below.)

BLM Director Abbey said the Interior Department opposes the addition of the prayer because it would detract from the memorial’s purpose – to honor the service of American troops in World War II.

“The Department strongly believes that the World War II Memorial, as designed, accomplishes its legislated purpose to honor the members of the Armed Forces who served in World War II and to commemorate the participation of the United States in that conflict,” Abbey said.

Abbey said opposition to the prayer was not a judgment of the prayer itself. The Interior Department opposes its inclusion, he said, because it would “intrude” on the WWII Monument, something that is technically prohibited by federal law.

“The Commemorative Works Act specifically states that a new commemorative work shall be located so that it does not encroach upon an existing one. It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the Memorial in this way, as proposed in H.R. 2070, will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message,” Abbey said.

In other words, the Obama administration argues that Congress is trying to create a separate memorial commemorating FDR’s prayer, rather than an addition to the national World War II Memorial.

Johnson, the author of H.R. 2070, said the prayer is an important part of WWII history. He called the administration’s opposition “unconscionable” saying that there was no reason to oppose its inclusion in the memorial.

“President Roosevelt’s prayer gave solace, comfort, and strength to our nation and our brave warriors as we fought against tyranny and oppression. These words should be included among the tributes to the Greatest Generation memorialized on the National Mall,” Johnson said in a statement November 3.

This is not the first time the administration has run afoul of religious conservatives.

President Obama recently criticized House Republicans for not passing his jobs bill, mocking them for considering legislation reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the National Motto.

Obama also has been criticized for omitting the phrase “endowed by our Creator” in references to the Declaration of Independence.

In 2011, Obama did not issue a Presidential Easter message, although he did issue one for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan that same year.

In 2009, the Catholic monogram IHS was covered over before Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University in Washington. IHS symbolizes the name of Jesus, using the first three letters of the ancient Greek spelling of his name.

FDR’s full D-Day prayer, offered on June 6, 1944, reads as follows:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. 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.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.