June 06, 2018
Thirty-four years ago today, President Ronald Reagan stood above the rocky crags of Normandy, France and commemorated the largest and most significant military operation in the 20th Century. To the brave men who survived D-Day, he said:
"You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? ...What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love... You all knew that some things are worth dying for."
So many tales of courage from that day have been handed down through the generations like fine heirlooms, knit together in the legacy of self-sacrifice. There are stories like Jack Lucas's, the youngest Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor. After forging his mother's signature so he could enlist at age 14, Jack begged his superiors to let him fight. He even "stowed away aboard a Navy ship headed for combat in the Pacific Ocean." When he explained his situation to the officers on board, they granted his wish to fight the Japanese. Today, even 74 years removed from those heroic moments, the deep tradition that burned bright in the hearts of our troops still blazes.
After the Obama administration, when even the presence of a Bible verse at your workstation could get you court-martialed, Americans could scarcely remember having a president who would call the nation to prayer like Franklin Roosevelt did in the wake of the thousands of men storming those bloody beaches. "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."
The odds the Allies faced then were as steep as the Normandy cliffs so many died climbing. Eric Metaxas, like so many others, wonders if that victory would have been possible without the faith of millions that day.
"Stores closed, and prayer services were swiftly organized in small towns and big cities. Photographs taken on June 6 show just how widespread these prayers were. One picture shows a sign in the window of a novelty button shop reading, 'Sorry, no covered buttons today. We are praying for the success of the invasion.' A sign in front of a church reads, 'Come in and pray for Allied victory: Hourly intercessions on the hour.' Another photo shows Americans in a synagogue, bowing their heads in prayer. At a noon Mass, we see men and women on their knees, fervently praying.
New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took to the airwaves, urging citizens to 'send forth [their] prayers to Almighty God... to bring total victory... in [this] great and valiant struggle...'
...And prevail they did."
Many people, FDR said, urged him to call the nation into a single day of prayer. "But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer." May Americans, seven decades later, heed his same challenge today. "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."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.