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D-Day 1944: Franklin D. Roosevelt's national prayer offers unique objective

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a powerful D-Day prayer asking God for divine intervention.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a powerful D-Day prayer asking God for divine intervention. Photo

Once upon a time the American government did not worry about not asking for the blessings or protection of God during a time of crisis. Criticism from the media or even anti-religious forces did not deter prayer from the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.

In 1944 it was a different atmosphere in America for certain. America was about to make the greatest human investment towards the freedom from the shackles of Nazi tyranny for Europe and the threat of brutal aggression. An armada of over 5,000 ships were poised for an invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France that would probably determine the outcome of world history for the next 1000 years.

Germany had the superior fire power, superior generals, superior military equipment, and a deadly strategy of swamping the allied invasion at the point of attack. German General Erwin Rommel, known as the "Desert Fox", was correct in thinking that if the invasion could be halted at the beaches, the effort would be a disaster for the allies and the invasion would collapse. It would be reminiscent of the withdrawal at Dunkirk regarding morale and being able to put the resources together again. The war effort would have been set back for years.

Germany was close to developing the first atomic bomb, and with a viable delivery system with the V-2 rockets, Germany had the capacity to dominate the world. A delay would have allowed Germany to develop the atomic bomb first.

It would have been a nightmare scenario.

President Roosevelt was briefed that the D-Day invasion was not going very well. There was talk of withdrawing the forces and returning to England. Instead of tucking tail and hiding, Roosevelt went on the national radio and led the nation with this prayer:

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 good will 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 keenness 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 arrogancies. 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.


One can safely wager there was not that much static about Roosevelt asking God to secure "our religion".

With great humility President Roosevelt prayed and prepared the nation for the possible defeat that was looming at Normandy. His heartfelt appeal by leading the nation in prayer for divine intervention petitioned God for success of the worthy venture to defeat evil.

There were many behind the scenes decisions made that can be attributed to “luck”, however some extremely critical variables went into the allies’ favor which history has already recorded, perhaps the result of answered prayer. There were so many intangibles that turned the tide.

From a potential disaster of epic proportions, Normandy turned into the allies’ greatest hour.

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