The First Thing Americans Did on D-Day
Monday, June 6, marks the 78th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It’s impossible to exaggerate the significance of the D-Day invasion and the stakes it involved. Historian Alex Kershaw referred to June 6th, 1944, as "the most important day in human history."
The united stand displayed that day involved more than just the soldiers on the battlefield. Though they may not have been wearing uniforms, the American public across the nation stood united in their resolve to appeal to the Almighty.
As word of the invasion began to disseminate across the airwaves in the US, Americans began to pray. Keith Huxen, a senior director at the National World War II Museum explained: “The reaction of many Americans, whenever they found out what was happening that day, was to attend religious services. Churches and synagogues were reportedly packed across the country.”
Regardless of religious affiliation, or none at all, people knew where to turn first in this desperate hour.
Stores closed and prayer services were assembled in small towns and big cities. Photographs taken on June 6, 1944, show just how much this nation valued the role of faith and prayer in a time of great need. 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.”
In New York City, the mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, led New Yorkers in prayer at a D-Day rally in Madison Square Garden. Those attending and listening at home on the radio, heard the mayor proclaim: “We, the people of the City of New York, in meeting assembled, send forth our prayers to the Almighty God for the safety and spiritual welfare of every one of you and humbly petition Him to bring total victory to your arms in the great and valiant struggle for the liberation of the world from tyranny.”
40 years later, President Ronald Reagan, speaking at Normandy, reflected on the power of prayer saying, “The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia, they were ringing the Liberty Bell.”
Today, we can’t help but ask: How much did the prayers of those back home have to do with this great victory? War correspondent Ernie Pyle, who arrived at Normandy on June 7, observed that the Allies achieved victory “with every advantage on the enemy’s side and every disadvantage on ours.” Despite this, he wrote, the total Allied casualties “were remarkably low—only a fraction, in fact, of what our commanders had been prepared to accept.” “Now that it is all over,” Pyle finished, “it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all.”
Difficult days require courageous individuals and leaders of integrity who will fight the enemy and steer the course of freedom. As we pause to recognize the significance of D-Day, we also take note of the great deal of courage that is needed to head into such a battle. Scripture is replete with reminders to choose courage and strength when taking on the enemy:
- Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9)
- Be strong and of good courage...do not be afraid of them (Nehemiah 4:14)
- Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10)
- Be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10)
Prayer is a big determiner of the amount of strength and courage one has. Lasting victory, bathed in prayer, brings results far beyond the battlefield. At My Faith Votes, we are grateful for the prayer that set the course for D-Day to continue to impact the world far beyond 1944.
Nations were sustained, lives were protected, and freedom was secured as those covered in prayer courageously pressed forward. The eyes of the world were watching as these unified allies stood together to restrain evil and promote good.
Learning from their example, My Faith Votes facilitates a movement that unites and drives a body of Christian allies in solidarity on a shared purpose: public unity and amplification of the Christian voice in the public square and at the ballot box.
We begin with prayer:
- Thanking God for His blessing of America
- Repentance for the ways we have allowed sin to permeate society
- Asking for wisdom to reclaim ground lost through apathy and lack of engagement
- Praying for the faithful who are already working to continue in courage as they restore faith to the public square
- Asking the Lord to restrain the forces of evil and magnify His traits through us
Then we move on to renewing our minds as we think biblically about the issues of the day and the corrective action needed to secure the common good of society.
We think about:
- Celebrating virtues and values, not distorting them
- Building society for the glory of God, not the glory of man
- Spreading the truths of God to future generations, not limiting them
- Interpreting information through the lens of good, not evil
Our prayers and our thinking compel us to take action. In this public action realm, we provide the world with a visible display of Christianity in motion.
Our actions can include:
- Uniting with other believers to increase our effectiveness
- Modeling behaviors we want to see
- Driving conversations and encouraging the engagement of our friends and families
- Reminding others that the truths of God should be lived out and practiced in every arena – including the government realm - if we are to maintain the freedoms that were sacrificially secured by the courageous soldiers we remember in our D-Day celebrations.
D-Day was covered in prayer. Those on the home front bowed in prayer. Those in leadership, including the President, beseeched Almighty God through public prayer. Those leading on the battlefield called upon the Lord for His special providence.
May we commit to pray for our nation, for freedom to be preserved, for our trust to be placed in God in these turbulent times. May we have the courage necessary to stand in our time – courage like that of those who stormed the cliffs and beaches at Normandy seventy-eight years ago.
My Faith Votes provides easy-to-use resources that help you connect your private prayers to a public narrative. Visit the PRAY section for tools you can download and share.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.