Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pray4America (part 3) - FDR's Flag Day prayer - June 14, 1942

US Historical Flags

Remember when TV stations used to sign off for the day?

If you don't, you are probably under 30.

Before 24/7 cable, a station ended its day - late at night or early in the morning - usually with a short, but inspiring or patriotic video. And one such sign-off video (shown below) plays to the appropriate tune, The Star Spangled Banner, as it shows the evolution of the American flag throughout our history - from Jamestown (1607) to the moon landing (1969).

And that clip above is both quite a historical and an educational tribute to Flag Day - which we recognize each year on June 14th. Since the early days of our history, the American flag has represented freedom - something very fragile in an evil world - and our country's ideals of liberty and justice for all.

But ....

70 years ago ...

the United States celebrated a more poignant Flag Day, one in which freedom and our country were greatly in peril.

The year was 1942.

The United States had just entered into World War Two (1939 - 1945) after Japan and Germany had declared war on us, embroiling us in another world war not to be equalled in the rest of the 20th century.

During those trying times, the Nazi juggernaut had rolled up the map of continental Europe. Japan had nearly wiped out our Pacific fleet with their attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Yet, we had just fought the Battle of Midway the previous week (June 4 - 7, 1942) and had won a decisive victory against Japan, giving hope to turn the tide in our favor in the Pacific theater.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during these dark days, broadcast his Flag Day speech to the nation, closing with a prayer for the world.

The clip below plays an excerpt from the last part of that prayer, shown with some moving images of World War Two, which are from the end credits of the series, World War II in HD.

The Spirit of man has awakened
The Soul of man has gone forth

Grant us the wisdom and the vision
to comprehend the greatness of man's Spirit
that suffers and endures so hugely for a goal
beyond his own brief span

We are all of us children of Earth
Grant us that simple knowledge
If our brothers are oppressed,
then we are oppressed
If they hunger, we hunger
If their freedom is taken away,
our freedom is not secure

Grant us a common faith,
that man shall know bread and peace
That he shall know justice and righteousness,
Freedom and security, an equal opportunity,
and an equal chance to do his best,
not only in our own lands, but throughout the world.

And in that faith, let us march, march toward the clean world,
our hands can make. Amen

The entire text of FDR's radio address can be found here: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Radio Address on United Flag Day.," June 14, 1942. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

It's been 70 years since these words ending with a prayer were first broadcast to the nation ... on Flag Day.  And it was one of many prayers offered during World War Two.  (reference: World War Two and National Prayer.)  Yet, this prayer speaks to the great needs of our nation and the world in the 21st century.

And may we continue to pray to rely on God for help and wisdom as we face the great challenges and difficult days ahead, and with His infinite grace and mercy, prevail. Amen.

So ....

Keep praying for America
for ...

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord ...
Psalm 33:12


Previous posts in this series:

Pray4America (part 1) - National Day of Prayer (2012)

Pray4America (part 2) - FDR's prayer on D-Day (2012)


Previous posts on Flag Day:

The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner (2010)

Flag Day (2009)


Posts on World War Two:

America's Story (part 4) - Christmas 1944, when we said NUTS to the enemy (2011)

America's Story (part 3) - Over There - 1917, 1941 (2011)

A kiss immortalized in August 14, 1945 (2010)

Remembering D-Day - June 6, 1944 (2010)

Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 - World War Two Soldiers Remembered (2009)


Photo from Wikipedia: US Historical Flags


  1. Nice post, I'm citing it in a paper Law school paper discussing FDR's human rights vocabulary. Thanks again!

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I wish you the best in your studies.

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