June 6, 1944
Here, in a VFR entry
of June 6, 2006, is the complete text of “First Wave at Omaha Beach,” by S. L. A. Marshall, published the November 1960 Atlantic
. Here are Spencer Warren’s thoughts
about a tour of Omaha Beach. Also, on a different subject, but posted four years ago today, a discussion
of Ronald Reagan, who passed away on June 5, 2004.
* * *
Spencer Warren writes:
Here is the prayer that President Roosevelt read to the nation on June 6, 1944. You will note he says nothing about democracy, but speaks of “a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.” FDR drafted it himself.
- end of initial entry -
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 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 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 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.
It is sad to think that prayerful speeches like FDR’s were a mainstay of inspiration in those days, yet are nowhere to be found today, at least in that calibre. The language he used and his message are certainly not out-of-date. But can anyone imagine Sr Boosh delivering—let alone writing!—anything remotely similar in its goodness and sincerity? Hearing recordings like these bring to life a dignified decorum we have somehow left behind. Although it took place a generation later, JFK’s pre-election debate on religion that you also provided a link to had a similar effect on me. It is heartening to witness actual proof that a baseline societal essence that many of us feel has been replaced by unprincipled hedonism was something very real and not imagined or simply distorted in our imaginations. [LA replies: YES.]
When I see the direct expressions of how statesmen actually carried on in some long gone era, it makes me sad and hopeful at once. I know we don’t have to work to build up a more principled community from whole cloth. The foundational experience is real, and still many of us know it on some level, and revere it.
By the way, in the linked recording the very last word, “Amen,” is absent.
As a complement to President Roosevelt’s natural invocation of God, country, and Western civilization, be sure to see the excerpts posted at VFR of FDR’s sensible, sane speeches on immigration and nationhood delivered in New York City on October 28 1936.
Mencius Moldbug writes (posted June 12):
I’d really like to see Spencer Warren’s source for the claim that “FDR drafted it himself.” I have never heard of a case in which FDR wrote one of his own speeches, and the euphemism “drafted” sounds quite suspicious to me. Famously, in his inauguration speech in ‘32, he started reading from the first page of one speechwriter’s speech and continued into another completely different one, which said many opposite things.
It really astounds me that even at VFR, people remain in the thrall of the Great FDR. John T. Flynn’s book “The Roosevelt Myth” is only a click away. [LA replies: While it’s possible that someone wrote it for FDR, would Flynn be the most reliable source for information like this? If his tone is like Mencius’ (“remain in the thrall of the Great FDR,” “The man was an intellectual pigmy”), then we can expect that his approach to FDR is not that of a historian, but of someone simply seeking to tear down FDR.]
I’m not disputing that FDR read some great speeches, but the idea that he could write something like that is preposterous. The man was an intellectual pigmy. Mystery novels were about his speed.
Spencer Warren replies:
I think I read this in Conrad Black’s biography.
As to the inaugural address, I have the actual radio broadcast. If I have the time, I will listen to it to see if it flows logically.
Spencer Warren continues:
On further reflection, may I add that Mencius Moldbug’s ad hominem attack on FDR is quite out of place in this thread. The point is how the opening of FDR’s prayerful address was written in terms that today warm the heart of every VFR reader, and what that says about how times have changed. Mr. Moldbug’s comment in this thread commemorating a great event in our history, and on a very minor point, which he expands to take in the irrelevant matter of FDR’s first inaugural address, makes him the Pat Buchanan of VFR readers. He give the impression that he is blinded by hatred of past leaders who, whether he likes it or not, are part of our historical fabric. A traditionalist conservative does not want gratuitously and endlessly to tear at that fabric.
I think there is something to Mr. Warren’s comment. The point here was the beauty and meaningfulness of that prayer, and what it says about how American leaders once talked about America. Mencius’ comment seemed to have the intent of disparaging that view, by saying that FDR didn’t write and wasn’t capable of writing the prayer, because he had no intelligence.
Whether FDR or someone else wrote it, FDR accepted it and delivered it in the form in which he delivered it. So it expressed what he wanted to say.
People are under the false impression that if an office holder has a speech writer, the office holder is merely a puppet. But assuming the officer holder is not an empty suit, it doesn’t generally work that way—especially when the office holder is giving a speech on an event as momentous as the Normandy invasion. The speech writer does the hard work of producing the draft, then his employer adapts the parts he wants, makes changes, and so on. The final product is in conformity with the office holder’s own intention.
So the fact remains that when FDR spoke of the “struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” that was the expression of a thought that he felt was meaningful and true, and that he knew would be meaningful to the American people of his day. And that’s why those words are significant as an expression of the America of 1944.
Spencer Warren writes:
Your end comment is excellent. Thank you. I think this is a very good, thoughtful thread for readers. Many right-wingers are just rabid when FDR comes up. They are rather immature, I think. There is lots to criticize, yes, especially on domestic policy, but they go overboard with their rage—as with the Pearl Harbor conspiracy charge. (I’ll bet that is in the Flynn book that Mr. Moldbug cites.)
A few years back I had exchanges with Sam Karnick, then it came out he did not know the Red Army occupied most of Eastern Europe at the time of Yalta.
“I knew another guy, very close-minded, who, if you said FDR liked baseball, would start frothing at the mouth about Yalta, ignorantly too!”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 06, 2008 12:57 PM | Send
That description captures a large part of the paleocon mindset.