"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.
The D-Day Prayer will be a free-standing element within a restored Circle of Remembrance with the bronze plaque held by granite piers, providing material continuity and lighter feeling.
This will be an important and meaningful addition to the Memorial, which is visited by more than 5 million people each year, providing a contemplative space to reflect on and to remember the more than 400,000 American souls lost during World War II.
A $2 million grant by Lilly Endowment Inc. is allowing Friends to complete this effort, begun in 2015, to add President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer to the World War II Memorial, restore the “Circle of Remembrance” – the area where the prayer will be placed, and to develop interpretative programming.
This effort will complete the World War II Memorial, and the additional programming – both onsite and online – will explore the stories of the everyday men and, in particular, the women, of all backgrounds, who served and without whom victory would not have been possible.
On June 6, 1944, on live radio, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked his fellow citizens to join him in prayer as American troops were landing in Normandy, launching one of the most dangerous and complicated battles of World War II. Knowing the terrible odds our troops were facing as they crossed a quarter mile of open beach under heavy Nazi fire, President Roosevelt beseeched God on behalf of an anxious nation in one of the largest mass prayers in history:
“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. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.”
Friends Board member and New York Times bestselling author Alex Kershaw says of FDR’s D-Day Prayer:
“Of all FDR’s radio broadcasts I believe it was the most powerful – it united every American in their will to win, to support the war effort, to sacrifice. It beautifully encapsulated the Allied and U.S. mission in WWII – ‘they fight not for the lust of conquest…they fight to liberate…’ Liberate they did – those boys drawn from the ways of ‘peace’ and ‘democracy’. Then the U.S. rebuilt Europe and protects it to this day…6 June 1944 was – to my mind – America’s finest hour, the peak of its moral authority, and FDR’s prayer the most unifying, most moving articulation of all that the world admired and respected about the U.S.’s mission. It’s a reminder of the spirit of unity that defined the U.S. in WWII and which we so badly need to revive.”
“FDR’s moving fireside D-Day prayer to be added to World War II Memorial”, 2020 Mike Ruane, The Washington Post
President Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer was not included on the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. when it was completed and dedicated in 2004. In 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the World War II Memorial Prayer Act (Public Law 113-123) directing that the prayer be added to the World War II Memorial. The legislation stipulated that no federal funds could be used to implement this directive. Therefore, Friends took on the responsibility of designing and funding the project.
On September 19, 2022, Carol Bodner and Linda Frank honored their late father, D-Day veteran Herman Zeitchik; all those who served in the Battle of Normandy; and all 16 million men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II by sprinkling sand from Utah Beach into the foundation of the newly restored Circle of Remembrance.