FREMONT - When Chris Long, executive director of Ohio Christian Alliance, first visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., he was surprised that there was no evidence related to the country’s strong heritage of faith. This is in stark contrast to many other landmarks throughout the nation's capital — including the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial, which are inscribed with Bible verses or quotes about God.
“I visited the World War II Memorial, and it didn’t have any prayers, Scripture verses or any reference to God,” Long said.
Long was inspired to garner support to change that, and, today, construction is in progress to add to the World War II Memorial the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he led the nation in prayer on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day. The World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013 was sponsored by U.S. Representative Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and Senator Rob Portman, R-OH.
“We approached Congressman Johnson to ask him to sponsor the bill in the House, and Senator Portman contacted us,” Long said.
After an outpouring of strong bipartisan support, former president Barack Obama signed the bill in 2014.
Construction on the project is underway just outside the Atlantic Arch. The new section will be called the “Circle of Remembrance” and will include granite flooring and benches and four bronze plaques carved with Roosevelt’s entire 545-word prayer.
The prayer is filled with Roosevelt’s acknowledgment of the need for God’s help to defeat the enemy and endure the sufferings of war both on the battlefield and at home. He asked God to help the soldiers “conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances” and help those at home to “rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.”
He ended the prayer in obeisance to God’s sovereignty with the words, “Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.”
Of all the Bible verses, quotes or prayers that could have been chosen as an addition to the memorial, it was this prayer that seemed most appropriate. On D-Day and the days to come, it inspired and encouraged the nation.
“It meant a lot to the service personnel. Many veterans’ families I spoke to talked about seeing the prayer displayed in homes, but it has been forgotten,” Long said. “This is a way to reintroduce the prayer and the reasons behind why we defended freedom during World War II.”
The estimated cost of the prayer project is $2 million, all of which will be paid by private donations without the use of tax money. Long said the Friends of the WWII Memorial have raised $125,000 and Ohio Christian Alliance, which just recently started its fundraising campaign, has raised about $10,000 so far.
Long was in Fremont to raise awareness and seek donations for the project during a presentation sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Faith & Values Coalition on Sept. 16 at Fremont Middle School, and he gave another presentation at Fremont Baptist Temple on Sept. 17.
“God laid it on my heart that our community should contribute $1,000,” Pastor Gary Click told the congregation during the presentation. “I want to inspire you to have a part in our nation’s heritage.”
Click said $700 has been raised locally so far.
Long said the projected dedication date for the D-Day Prayer project is June 2019, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing.
“This is a wonderful tribute to the 16 million who served during World War II,” Long said.
Contributions to the project can be made at ohioca.org or by sending checks made out to the Ohio Christian Alliance Ed Fund to P.O. Box 3076, Akron, OH 44309.