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Senate approves adding D-Day prayer to World War II Memorial

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Just before the celebration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Senate approved legislation that would add the famous D-Day prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington. On Thursday, June 5, 2014, the day before the celebration of the event, the Senate approved the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 (S. 1044). The bill would direct the Department of the Interior (DoI) to install a plaque or inscription near the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in the nation's capital city.

The inscription would include the words of the prayer that President Franklin Roosevelt gave over the radio on June 6, 1944, the morning of the Allied invasion of Normandy in France during World War II. No federal funds could be used for installing the inscription, however; proponents would have to raise the money privately. But DoI would be responsible for designing, building and installing the inscription.

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources approved the bill last November. It was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar on March 31. But the Senate waited until its last session before the D-Day Anniversary to vote on it. The bill went through on unanimous consent.

A companion bill was reported on May 29 by the House Committee on Natural Resources. The bill has not been officially reported to the House for a vote, though. Similar legislation failed to clear the last Congress. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill should not cost the federal government a significant amount of money.

Roosevelt prayed that the men fighting in France would defeat the enemy and return safely to their families. He asked the American public to continue support for the war.

Despite the lack of objections in Congress, the measure is not without controversy. The National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission and the American Battle Monuments Commission objected on the grounds that the current design for the memorial was carefully developed and should not be tinkered with. The bill also makes an end run around the normal review process for memorials, sidestepping input from the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.

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