On June 6th, the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke on the floor of the Senate to ask for passage of the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2012 which calls for a plaque, to be installed on the National World War II Memorial, inscribed with a prayer President Roosevelt spoke when announcing the operation over the radio in 1944. Although tax payer money won’t be used for the making of the plaque, it still will be on a national memorial on public land that is suppose to honor all soldiers who fought in the war. Portman’s bill is as misguided as someone putting the 10 Commandments up in a court house.
Here is the text of the bill that was introduced on May 10th:
To direct the Secretary of the Interior to install in the area of the World War II Memorial in the District of Columbia a suitable plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the United States on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2012′.
SEC. 2. PLACEMENT OF PLAQUE OR INSCRIPTION AT WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL.
The Secretary of the Interior–
(1) shall install in the area of the World War II Memorial in the District of Columbia a suitable plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the United States on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day;
(2) shall design, procure, prepare, and install the plaque or inscription referred to in paragraph (1); and
(3) may not use Federal funds to prepare or install the plaque or inscription referred to in paragraph (1), but may accept and expend private contributions for this purpose.
SEC. 3. COMMEMORATIVE WORKS ACT.
Chapter 89 of title 40, United States Code (commonly known as the `Commemorative Works Act’), shall apply to the design and placement of the plaque within the area of the World War II Memorial.
Here is part of the prayer in question:
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.
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.
In a story in the Columbus Dispatch, Portman is quoted:
The prayer, Portman said, “brought strength and inspiration to many during what was a very challenging time for our country.”
He said he hoped the inscription would serve as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made that day, as well as the “power of prayer during a difficult time.”
I’m sure that prayer probably helped a good number of soldiers on D-Day and through out World War II but that still doesn’t justify the US government endorsing a prayer by having it engraved on a National memorial meant to honor all the people who fought in the war – not just believers.
It just seems Portman is like many religious fundamentalists who want to brand everything government related with prayer or other Christian quotes as if that would prove their special status in this country. Just like putting up 10 Commandment plaques or monuments up in court houses, such branding lets non-believers and others who aren’t in the dominate religion to feel like their efforts don’t matter or they are 2nd class citizens not worthy of being honored.
Yes, back in 1944, we weren’t as enlightened as we are today in the importance of separation of church and state. President Thomas Jefferson refused to issue any proclamations of “fastings & thanksgivings” so does that mean no President should do that? I bet Senator Portman would argue against that quite strenuously.
I feel that any national memorial should have no religious fringe since real separation of church and state means a government and its monuments should be neutral on religious issues.