May 25, 2012
Weekly Column from U.S. Senator Rob Portman
Monday is Memorial Day, a holiday many Ohioans will celebrate with a cookout, a swim in a neighborhood pool just opened for the summer season, or just a day with family.
As we take part in those activities, let’s remember that we owe the very freedom we’re enjoying to the men and women in uniform who gave their lives to guarantee our security.
Throughout our life as a nation, from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan, our veterans have been the protectors of our liberty and the defenders of our democracy. To all of them and their families, we owe a debt we will never be able to repay.
Memorial Day is about those veterans who did not make it home. These brave men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice, and so we owe them a special debt.
Over the decades, there have been many heroes, including in Iraq and Afghanistan and the other places where our troops have served during the past decade.
The defense of freedom by this generation of heroes ties them to the heroes of preceding generations, including the men of the Normandy invasion.
To commemorate that World War II generation, I’ve introduced legislation that would install a plaque or inscription at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. with the words that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt prayed with the nation on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
On that day, courageous Americans risked their lives up and down the coast of France. And thousands made the ultimate sacrifice.
President Roosevelt asked our nation to come together to pray for the men overseas. His powerful and ecumenical prayer brought strength and inspiration to many during one of the most challenging times for our nation. His words later brought comfort to the grieving families and friends of the brave men who were killed in action that day.
These words will forever be etched in our history – and in stone, we hope, shortly. Our bill ensures that President Roosevelt’s prayer becomes a permanent reminder of the sacrifices of those who fought in World War II, and of the power of prayer through difficult times.
We’ve worked closely with the National Park Service to ensure that our plaque or inscription doesn’t disrupt the World War II Memorial or bypass the public comment and approval process contained in the Commemorative Works Act, which governs monuments in Washington.
Our effort is bipartisan. My colleague and friend from across the aisle, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, is co-sponsoring the bill. And under the leadership of colleagues from Ohio, the House of Representatives has already passed the legislation.
This Memorial Day, let’s be sure to commemorate the men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion so that we might be free. As President Roosevelt prayed on behalf of those troops who would not make it home on D-Day, “Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.”