On this glorious Memorial Day in Southwest Virginia, when temperatures are expected to hit the mid-80s, many in our area are enjoying the day and looking forward to spending time at the lake, pool or around the grill. We all know that recreation and connection with loved ones are good for body, mind and soul. Unofficially, this weekend marks the start of summer.
On a deeper level, however, Roanoke’s Star remembers the significance of Memorial Day and encourages our readers to be equally mindful: it’s a time to remember those in the armed forces who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today. Yes, our nation has many problems and inequalities. Yet, as radio personality and finance guru Dave Ramsey puts it, “America has the richest poor in the world.”
Little known today, Democratic President Harry Truman has declared Memorial Day to be “a day of prayer for permanent peace”. (It was Truman who also declared the annual National Day of Prayer underway.) There is much confusion in our culture about the role of religion and its expression in the public square. Yet below is Truman’s “Proclamation 2889: Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day” from May 22, 1950. To provide historical context, it should be recalled that 1950 was only five years after the world’s first use of atomic bombs, the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.
By the President of the United States of America
War being the most terrible scourge in the world, we must do everything in our power to prevent it from happening again.
It was the hope of mankind that with the cessation of hostilities in World War II, the way would be opened for the establishment of a permanent peace. Instead, this war has left the world in a state of continuous turmoil. Accordingly, we feel the need to turn with humble entreaty to Almighty God for help and guidance.
Recognizing this need, Congress wisely provided, in a joint resolution which I approved on May 11, 1950, that Memorial Day, which has long been reserved to honor those who have lost their lives in war, will henceforth be also consecrated as a day of national prayer for permanent peace. Congress also asked the president to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day in this manner.
Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, The President of the United States of America, pursuant to the aforesaid resolution, hereby proclaims Memorial Day, Tuesday, May 30, 1950, and each Memorial Day thereafter, as a day of prayer for permanent peace. And I designate the hour commencing at eleven o’clock in the morning of this day, Eastern Daylight Time, as a time during which all of our people may join together in prayer, each in accordance with their own religious faith, for divine help in bringing lasting peace to a troubled world.
I also ask the press agencies, radio, television and other means of public information to associate themselves with the observance of this day and the hour indicated by announcements and programs intended to unite the Nation in a universal prayer. for permanent peace.
In WITNESS WHEREOF, I have taken these presents and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
Do at the city of Washington this 22nd of May in the year of Grace one thousand nine hundred and fifty and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-fourth.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
By the President:
JAMES E. WEBB,
Acting Secretary of State
In 1950 Truman said “we feel the need to turn with humble entreaty to Almighty God for help and guidance”. Likewise today, as Europe’s biggest ground war since 1945 rages in Ukraine and the sounds of sabers rile East Asia and the rest of the world, many again see the need to turn humbly to the Almighty “for help and guidance”.
Interestingly, Truman also noted, “I also call on the news, radio, television, and other public information media to join in observing this day and time specified by announcements. and programs designed to unite the Nation in a universal prayer for permanent peace.
How often, dear reader, do you notice that the mainstream press, radio, television, or Internet media call for a specific time of “universal prayer”? Unlike the silence of so many other platforms, here at Roanoke’s Starwe seek to observe both the spirit and the letter of Truman’s sincere appeal.
In addition to threats abroad, we also face myriad challenges here at home. Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears spoke about the recent and horrific killings in Texas in this poignant speech. Despite the backdrop of these untold evils, Sears is also setting a framework to return our country to a place of health and shalom.
Remembering where our country comes from can help us chart a course into the future.
Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the last Virginia-born president, said, “A nation that doesn’t remember what it was yesterday, doesn’t know what it is today, not what it’s trying to TO DO. We are trying to do a futile thing if we don’t know where we come from or what we have done.
To Roanoke’s Starwe remember.
To learn more about Memorial Day and its origins, please read this blog.