Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that by a vote of 370 to 12, the House overwhelmingly passed his D-Day prayer bill, the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 (S.1044), and it is now headed to the President for signature. The legislation passed the Senate on June 5, 2014. The bipartisan bill, authored by Portman and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), directs 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.
“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 combating 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 Portman. “At no cost to the taxpayer, my 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.”
“For the past three years, this legislation has been making its way through Congress, and today with this vote a victory has been won for those veterans of the WWII generation that served our country with distinction and honor,” said Chris Long, Ohio Christian Alliance President. “This wonderful historical Presidential prayer is a fitting tribute to the 16 million Americans that served us in WWII, and its inclusion at the memorial erected in their honor is a proper addition that will remind visitors of the sacrifices that were made for the cause of liberty. President Roosevelt’s prayer articulated the great crusade that was underway to liberate millions suffering under tyranny. He honored the war effort and paid tribute to the fallen and those veterans who fought courageously in the conflict.”
“Senator Portman’s legislation is especially personal for me,” said Roberta Combs, President and CEO of the Christian Coalition of America. “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 would require placement of the prayer to be subject to a Commemorative Works approval and review process. The bill has been endorsed by the Ohio Christian Alliance and the Christian Coalition of America. The Christian Coalition of America submitted testimony in support of the bill at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee mark-up earlier this year.
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.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944