A tense and tired world is awaiting word of an Allied invasion of Western Europe, crushed for years under the jackboots of the Nazi war machine.
In the early morning hours of June 6, the news flashes over American radios: The greatest amphibious invasion in history has begun on the beaches of Normandy, France. As paratroopers leap from their planes and landing craft speed toward the coast, another great battle is being waged at home: a prayer battle, imploring God for victory over the dark forces of fascism.
It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of the D-Day invasion. As one historian notes, “Without question, a failed invasion of France would constitute a calamity of incalculable proportions for the Western allies.” Who knows how long it would have taken to organize a second invasion attempt—time that might have allowed a German victory.
So as word of the assault trickled out, Americans began to pray. Stores closed, and prayer services were swiftly organized in small towns and big cities.
Photographs taken on June 6 show just how widespread these prayers were. 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.” Another photo shows Americans in a synagogue, bowing their heads in prayer. At a noon Mass, we see men and women on their knees, fervently praying.
New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took to the airwaves, urging citizens to “send forth [their] prayers to Almighty God . . . to bring total victory . . . in [this] great and valiant struggle . . .”
In Washington, President Roosevelt, who had sons in uniform, urged Americans to join him in prayer for all the nation’s sons: “With Thy blessing,” he prayed, “We shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.”
And, by heaven, prevail they did. On D-Day, and in the bloody days that followed, allied soldiers brought to vivid life the words of Winston Churchill: “We shall fight in France . . . We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets . . . We shall never surrender.”
As President Reagan put it 40 years later, speaking at Normandy to surviving Army Rangers: “These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”
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Source: Christian Headlines