On June 6th, 1944, 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops invaded German-occupied France at Normandy. On Decision Day, a date known ever since as D-Day, a mighty armada crossed a narrow strip of sea from England to Normandy, France, and cracked the Nazi grip on western Europe. The battle was far from being over – there would be months and months of more combat. But this battle, this day, was the beginnings of a decisive victory. Final victory was certain, even if the war was not altogether over. It would turn the tide of the war, and marked the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe.
A minister, who is a favorite of my husband’s, offered up a detailed, gruesome and all- too-real description of what happened that day in his Sunday sermon. He described how TEN THOUSAND of our soldiers died that day. Many of them died in the air and in the water before they ever reached the beach as burning fireballs as they fell from the sky in their parachutes or drowning in the sea. Dead bodies strewn all over the beach.
He talked about the day they heard about the invasion on the radio and how people all over America dropped to their knees. His Dad and Mother drug his 4-year-old body swiftly across a campground to the church where people gathered to pray all through the night. He said there were pictures in the newspaper of people on their knees at their jobs praying next to the machinery they ran — or people on their knees in the fields.
His detailed sermon of failure after failure, and thousands of deaths that day was to illustrate the power of prayer. On paper, the Allied Forces should have lost that battle. The power of Americans on their knees in prayer provided for a miraculous victory.
Back in the United States, on the day of the harrowing invasion, President Franklin Roosevelt brought the nation together for prayer via the radio. Invoking the name of “Almighty God”, Roosevelt prayed for the troops, for his country and for victory. He prayed for the the men injured or lost in the war, for their families and for their courage to stand. President Roosevelt’s prayer articulated the great crusade that was underway to liberate millions suffering under tyranny. He honored the war effort and paid respect to the fallen and those veterans who fought courageously in the conflict.
This is the prayer originally entitled “Let Our Hearts Be Stout” written by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Allied troops were invading German-occupied Europe during World War II. The prayer was read to the Nation on radio on the evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944, while American, British and Canadian troops were fighting to establish five beach heads on the coast of Normandy in northern France.
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 scheming 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.
Today on June 6, 2012 another Decision Day looms in America. Are we going to become a socialist empire run by madmen, or are we going to return to being ‘One Nation Under God’ ? It is up to us to determine the outcome, and we must never cease to believe and never cease to pray. Let our hearts be stout as we humbly kneel in prayer for our nation. I am proud to say I believe in God’s provision for our nation and I will not cease praying for our country. Will you do the same?
Contributor’s Note: Below is the prayer as spoken by FDR on the radio that evening as our troops landed in France.