Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed a bill that would have former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous D-Day prayer engraved on the national World War II monument in Washington, D.C. The bill now needs to be approved by President Barack Obama.
The House of Representatives agreed to pass the bill in a 370 to 12 vote on Monday. Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio's 6th District sponsored the House version of the bill, and a Senate version had already been passed when it was sponsored by Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman earlier in June.
The bill would give the Interior Department permission to engrave the famous prayer on the National World War II monument in Washington, D.C. The prayer, known simply as the "D-Day Prayer," was said by former president FDR on June 6, 1944 as a safeguard for the allied forces landing on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight Nazi troops.
The prayer reads, in part: "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."
Senator Portman said in a statement that he introduced the bill in an attempt to forever remember the soldiers who fought in World War II, especially on D-Day. "Every day, countless Americans volunteer to serve our country. Many more before them have made the greatest sacrifice of all, giving their lives to defend our freedoms. On D-Day, our nation mourned our men overseas who fell while combating tyranny. President Roosevelt asked us to come together to pray for these courageous heroes, and his words provided strength and comfort to a grieving nation."
"At no cost to the taxpayer, my bill will immortalize this extraordinary prayer on the World War II Memorial so it becomes a permanent reminder of the sacrifice of not just those who fought in World War II, but also of the men and women who fight for us today and all those who lay down their lives for the cause of liberty."
Some groups have denounced the bill, arguing that it is an unnecessary expression of religion in a public, heavily-visited place. According to the Plain Dealer Washington Reporter, the bill is supported by the Ohio Christian Alliance and the Christian Coalition of America, and opposed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In a letter written to the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation regarding the bill, Americans United Legislative Director Maggie Garrett denounced the piece of legislation as unnecessary.
"Inserting this prayer onto the Memorial would run contrary to the Memorial's goal of uniting Americans and defy the designers' judgments, which were 'painstakingly arrived upon after years of public deliberations and spirited public debate,'" she wrote.
"The Memorial, as designed, is purposely short on words in order to evoke a powerful message of unity. And, in contrast to some of the rhetoric that has accompanied this debate, the monument already acknowledges that faith was important to many soldiers during the war. There is no need to take extraordinary steps to reopen the design of the Memorial to add a prayer."