Friday, December 2, 2011

Why Are Words Missing on Our World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.?

Today I went to visit the new World War II Memorial in  Washington , DC . I got an unexpected history lesson. Because I'm a baby boomer, I was one of  the youngest in the crowd. Most were the age of  my parents, Veterans of 'the greatest war,' with  their families. It was a beautiful day, and people were smiling and happy to be there.  Hundreds of us milled around the memorial,  reading the inspiring words of Eisenhower and Truman that are engraved there.
On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor: 
'Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.' 
One elderly woman read the words aloud: 
'With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph.' 
But as she read, she was suddenly turned angry. 'Wait a minute,' she said, 'they left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt ended the message with  'so help us God.' 
Her husband said, 'You are probably right. We're not supposed to say things  like that now.' 
'I know I'm right,' she  insisted. 'I remember the speech.' The two  looked dismayed, shook their heads sadly and  walked away. 
Listening to their  conversation, I thought to myself, 'Well, it has  been over 50 years; she's probably forgotten.' 
But she had not forgotten. She was right..  
I went home and pulled out the book my book club is reading --- 'Flags of Our Fathers'  by James Bradley.  It's all about the battle at  Iwo Jima . 
I haven't gotten too far in the book. It's tough to read because it's a graphic description of the WWII battles in the Pacific. 
But right there it was on page 58. Roosevelt 's speech to the nation ends in  'so help us God.'  
The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war!  But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt 's words are engraved on their  hearts. 

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