Nobody ever accused Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd president, of being a religious nut, yet when World War II was raging he had this inscription placed in thousands of Bibles distributed to American troops as they headed into harm’s way:
“As Commander-in-Chief,” he wrote, “I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces on the United States. It is a fountain of strength.”
Imagine if Donald Trump sent such a message to our military today.
But FDR found himself in the same place our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, did when the Civil War was raging.
“Many times,” Lincoln confided to his secretary, “I have been driven upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go.”
Imagine if Trump tweeted that.
In his inaugural address after becoming our first president, George Washington declared, “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.”
Imagine if Trump said that, or if he parroted Lincoln whose last official act before being assassinated was placing “In God we trust” on our currency.
This is not a religious screed. It’s American history.
And what better day than Presidents Day to recall it, reflecting on who we are and where we came from?
Even in his own inaugural address, back in 1933 when it was the Great Depression weighing heavily on everyone’s mind, FDR noted, “We humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us (and) may He guide me in the days to come.”
Imagine if Trump had used those words in wrapping up last week’s State of The Union address.
Yet these remarks are all rooted in truths that endure to all generations, even if skeptics and militant secularists don’t want to hear them anymore, though no one — not even the ACLU — was heard complaining when, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, members of Congress stood shoulder to shoulder on the Capitol grounds, linking arms while singing, “God Bless America.”
No, this is not Bible thumping. It’s simply American history.
“A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday,” Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president, warned, “does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.
“We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”
Indeed. Happy Presidents Day.
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