PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) — President Donald Trump read from a prayer delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he joined other world leaders and veterans Wednesday in marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Roosevelt went on national radio on June 6, 1944, to address the U.S. for the first time about the Normandy invasion. Trump, with images of an American flag and Roosevelt projected behind him, read to the crowd: “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.”
Trump traveled to the southern coast of England Wednesday to pay respects to American service members and allies who helped rescue Europe from Nazi Germany. He sat in a VIP area with other world leaders and in between Queen Elizabeth II and first lady Melania Trump during the program, which focused on a telling of events leading up to D-Day. Some 300 World War II veterans also attended the seaside ceremony.
A chilly breeze blew off the English Channel as Trump arrived for the event, the first of two he is attending to mark the 75th anniversary of the day when Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen conducted an invasion that helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.
Trump joined in giving a standing ovation to a group of World War II vets who appeared on stage as the commemoration began.
He was the second world leader to speak, following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the lineup. Trump appeared on stage alone and read from a folder for about 90 seconds, reciting just an excerpt of Roosevelt’s 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,” Trump read.
French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May also delivered readings. Before he began, Macron said: “First, let me thank you sincerely, on behalf of my nation” — drawing cheers from the crowd.
The queen spoke in unusually personal terms in her brief address.
“When I attended the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, some thought it might be the last such event. But the wartime generation, my generation, is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today,” she said.
After the event, Trump visited with American World War II veterans who were among Allied troops on D-Day. He had lunch and met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before heading to Ireland for an airport meeting with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and to stay at his golf course in the village of Doonbeg, his first visit to the country as president.
Trump and Merkel discussed Libya and conditions in West Africa during their roughly 10-minute meeting, said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
During a news conference Tuesday in London , Trump said he is grateful for the warm welcome he received from the British royal family and prime minister. He played down protests of his visit, describing the thousands of people who demonstrated in London as a “small protest.”
Trump has used his speeches to emphasize a longstanding bond between the U.S. and Britain. He noted that more than 1.5 million Americans were stationed in England in advance of the invasion.
Trump also sought to clean up a diplomatic spat, telling “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan that he meant no royal insult when he used the term “nasty” in discussing the American-born Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The phrase generated a lot of media coverage and Trump has worked diligently to explain that he was speaking specifically on her comments about him, not about her.
Trump said: “She was nasty to me. And that’s okay for her to be nasty, it’s not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn’t.”
He said the controversy did not come up when he spoke with Markle’s husband, Prince Harry, who he says “couldn’t have been nicer.”
In the interview, Trump was asked if he wished he had served in Vietnam. “Well I was never a fan of that war I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was a terrible war,” Trump said. “I thought it was very far away.”
Trump was then asked whether serving in the military generally was something he would have liked. Trump said he would not have minded at all and “I think I’m making up for it rapidly” because of increased defense spending under his presidency.
While overseas, the president’s mind also appeared to be on matters back at home. He unleashed Twitter attacks on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Vice President Joe Biden and even actress and singer Bette Midler. A couple of the broadsides came in about 1 a.m. local time.
After Dublin balked at holding a meeting in Doonbeg, a deal was struck for Trump and Varadkar to meet at the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, hardly the grand setting usually afforded a meeting of world leaders.
Associated Press writers Gregory Katz and Jill Lawless in London and Darlene Superville and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.
SOURCE: JONATHAN LEMIRE and KEVIN FREKING, AP
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer
On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.
The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time.
When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to 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.”
Text of Radio Address – Prayer on D-Day, June 6, 1944:
“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 good will 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 arrogancies. 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.
SOURCE: FDR Library