Monday, November 7, 2011

A Prayer For The Greatest Generation

Anyone living in America today owes a debt thanks to the boys of the GI Generation. They were our Greatest Generation.

They were the boys who went off to fight in World War II—what many called the “Big One.” After defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, they came home and built our nation into an economic dynamo and a world leader. They knew the meaning of sacrifice, blood and treasure. They were humble men who never bragged about what they had done or been through.

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, General Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the Allied Expeditionary Force before the Normandy landing saying, "Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped and battle-hardened.  He will fight savagely.”

Back home, on the very same day, the Commander-in-Chief, FDR offered a prayer in a radio address to the nation.  It is that prayer that has stirred up a controversy.

A member of the Obama Administration, Bob Abbey, Director of the Bureau of Land Management, opposes a bill that was introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) known as the “World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2011.”

Citing the Commemorative Works Act, Abbey’s written testimony offers this rationale for opposing Johnson’s bill. "It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the Memorial in this way, as proposed in HR 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."

Dilute it?

We are losing World War II veterans at the rate of 1,000 a day.  The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that by 2015 there will only be 50,000 left.

Honor Flight Network, working furiously against the clock, transports veterans to visit THEIR memorial.  In the first year of Honor Flight’s efforts, they safely transported 137 veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  In 2010, their sixth year, they transported 22,149 veterans, all at no cost to the veterans.

The plaques that currently adorn the memorial mean something to these heroes.  The proposed plaque will give meaning to those visitors who are too young to remember the conflagration that embroiled the globe, the gravity of that “Longest Day” or the overwhelming anxiety of the President of the United States.  The plaque will help to tell the story long after the last member of the greatest generation is gone from this earth.

Read the verbatim words of FDR’s D-Day prayer and then tell me it doesn’t belong at the memorial or that it would dilute its central message.

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. 

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