Senator Portman and Senator Landrieu’s Effort to Commemorate FDR's D-Day Prayer with Nation at the WWII Memorial Passes Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – On the eve of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 (S.1044), bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent.  Portman and Landrieu’s legislation would direct the Secretary of the Interior to install a plaque or inscription at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the nation on June 6, 1944.  Portman originally introduced the bill last Congress with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and a companion bill, led by Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson, passed the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly during the 112th Congress by a vote of 386-26.

“Every day, countless Americans volunteer to serve our country.  Many more before them have made the greatest sacrifice of all, giving their lives to defend our freedoms. On D-Day, our nation mourned our men overseas who fell while combatting tyranny. President Roosevelt asked us to come together to pray for these courageous heroes, and his words provided strength and comfort to a grieving nation,” said Sen. Portman. “At no cost to the taxpayer, our bill will immortalize this extraordinary prayer on the World War II Memorial so it becomes a permanent reminder of the sacrifice of not just those who fought in World War II, but also of the men and women who fight for us today and all those who lay down their lives for the cause of liberty. Now that the bill has passed the Senate, we are one step closer to ensuring that this powerful prayer will be added to the World War II Memorial, and I urge swift passage in the House of Representatives.”

“The prayer that will be included on the WWII memorial is not about how the war was won, but about why it was fought. The reason we fought the war is the most important lesson for our country. On the eve of D-Day, it's particularly special that the Senate passed this resolution to add the prayer. I'm proud to be able to share it and pray these words that honor our military members who fought and died in WWII,” said Sen. Landrieu. “Louisiana and New Orleans contributed so much to the war. The ships that carried the troops to the beaches of Normandy were built in New Orleans by a small factory, where men, women, African-Americans, disabled workers were all paid equally— a remarkable story about the boats themselves that landed in Normandy. At the time, New Orleans was a small city that contributed so much and now is home to the National WWII Museum. We can never fully repay the debt we owe our greatest generation.  I am grateful to be able to memorialize this prayer so it can be part of the story that is told to America’s future generations.”

President Roosevelt’s prayer was read to the nation by radio address on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region.

The following is the text:

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 goodwill 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 keeness 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 arrogances. 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.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

The World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 was endorsed by the Christian Coalition of America, and they submitted testimony in support of the bill at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee mark-up earlier this year.  The following is the Christian Coalition of America’s testimony in support of the World War II Memorial Prayer Act:

Testimony of Roberta Combs, President & CEO of the Christian Coalition of America

On behalf of the Christian Coalition of America, I am honored to submit testimony supporting the World War II Memorial Prayer Act, sponsored by Senator Rob Portman.  This bill recognizes the power of prayer in our country, in times of peace and times of war.

Senator Portman’s legislation is especially personal for me. My late husband, Andy Combs, was a World War II veteran as well as a Korean War veteran.  After serving in both wars, Andy was stricken with polio at the age of 32.  He did not let this stop him from becoming a very successful businessman.  Andy would really commend Senator Portman’s bill as he realized the power of prayer, most especially in war.  Andy loved his country and was proud to be an American.

The World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 directs the Secretary of the Interior to install in the area of the World War II Memorial a plaque or inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the nation on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day. This plaque would serve as an enduring reminder of the power of prayer in our country’s triumphs and struggles.

Last year, companion legislation (H.R. 2070) overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 386-26. This bipartisan bill does not use federal funds and is subject to a standard commemorative works approval and review process.

This bill will ensure that President Roosevelt’s prayer becomes a permanent reminder that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and of the sacrifices of those who fought in World War II, including the 2,499 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice on D-Day.  Last year 22 Senators co-sponsored Senator Portman’s bill.

Thank you for your consideration of this wonderful bipartisan family values bill, the “World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013.”

Roberta Combs
President  & Chief Executive Officer
The Christian Coalition of America