Our chapter on civic culture discusses memorials and other symbols. Sometimes there is controversy about their content.
An earlier post featured the prayer that President Franklin Roosevelt broadcast to the nation during the allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) has introduced legislation to add to the World War II memorial a plaque featuring the D-Day prayer. Last week, a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee took testimony on the bill. World War II veteran George "Poppy" Fowler presented a statement:
Those reading this prayer will be able to recall the sacrifices made by our military, also those on the home front. This prayer came at a perilous time, yet it was answered in victory at a dear cost of lives.Today, this prayer can pertain to any military action. Under present circumstances, it is also appropriate.I feel this prayer also pertained to other military operations at that time.On June 6, 1944, the marvelous campaign was underway. I had the privilege to participate as a radio-gunner on the dive bomber from the carrier Essex – air group 15. It was only by the Grace of God that I returned to my family.Also, those reading this prayer may look at our great nation and ask what I may do to keep this freedom alive and also remembering loved ones.
Robert V. Abbey, Director of the Bureau of Land Management, explained the administration's opposition:
The Commemorative Works Act specifically states that a new commemorative work shall be located so that it does not encroach upon an existing one. It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the Memorial in this way, as proposed in H.R. 2070, will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate, and inspire its many visitors. The Department strongly believes that the World War II Memorial, as designed, accomplishes its legislated purpose to honor the members of the Armed Forces who served in World War II and to commemorate the participation of the United States in that conflict. It should not be altered in the manner suggested by H.R. 2070.