Friday, June 8, 2012

It is Presidential to Offer Public Prayers for the Nation

I received this in an email recently.  It made such a good point I thought I'd share it as I received it. - Brook

FDR's D-Day Prayer...

Roosevelt's address stands as a testament to how much our

nation has changed since that evening in the late spring of 1944.




     Franklin Roosevelt is not remembered for his religious dogma. Yet 68 years ago on the night of June 6, as tens of thousands of American and Allied forces were flung into a caldron of fire in Western Europe, the president and commander in chief sought to calm an anxious nation as he spoke to his people. It was a presidential address that stands out as a testament to how much our nation has changed since that evening in the late spring of 1944.

     Beginning around midnight the night before, elements of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions had landed behind enemy lines in France. They were followed seven hours later by massive landings on beaches in Normandy code-named Sword, Juneau, Gold, Omaha and Utah.
     Americans began hearing special reports in the middle of the night and they continued to follow events closely throughout the day. At lunch counters and in offices and factories, people clustered around their radios. So it was both natural and necessary that the president say something.
     Yet instead of giving a news account—something Americans had already heard from network radio news and read in their evening papers—Franklin Roosevelt chose a different course. He led the nation in prayer.

       "Almighty God," Roosevelt began, "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."
     There were mothers and fathers listening intently to that broadcast whose sons were already caught up in the middle of it all.  Some of those young men were already lost.  Roosevelt understood this, yet he never sugarcoated the realities.
     "They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest until victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and by flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war."     "Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, thy heroic servants, into thy kingdom."
     Somehow, Roosevelt understood what the nation needed to hear. This was an American president unafraid to embrace God and to define an enemy that clearly rejected the norms of humanity. And if the nature of the enemy was not clear to everyone that night, it would be made resoundingly clear as the armies advanced into Germany 10 months later. But Roosevelt also knew that the nation would have to stay true to its course, and for that he offered a moment as well.
     "Oh 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.   With thy blessing we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.  Help us conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances."
     Americans hung on every word. They needed to rededicate and redouble their efforts, much as Lincoln had reminded them at Gettysburg in the middle of another dark period. Now, almost an equal time has passed since D-Day, and it seems strangely difficult for our leaders to clearly define our values, our way of life, our causes for going to war to defend our ideals. It is unfathomable today that a president would embrace God the way Roosevelt did on that night.
     Imagine a president, any president, sitting in the Oval Office ending an address to the nation, in a slow, deliberate cadence, like this:
     "Thy will be done, Almighty God.    Amen."
          Yet that is how Franklin Roosevelt signed off that D-Day night.

    Yes, it is presidential to offer public prayers for our nation and our people.  Certainly our nation’s founding fathers did it.   Why did we stop?  Although our government is intentionally secular, it was meant to be supportive of religious faith, especially the Christian faith.    And still today, more than three-quarters of our people say they believe in the God of the Bible.   This should be reflected in who we elect to public office.  Otherwise, when we leave God out of national concerns, we are asking for failure.  - bea