Words from FDR Ring True Today // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

My friend, Gary, gave me a wonderful gift last week – a 1942 military issued Gideon New Testament.

Over the years, I’ve collected several old hymnals, as well as a few Bibles.  I hang onto the hymnals, but normally try to help the old Bibles reunite with their families.  Many families of yesteryear recorded significant life events in the front pages of Bibles.  I’ve literally found treasure troves of information – births, deaths, graduations and marriages. 

On several occasions, I’ve helped a Bible I’ve purchased at an antique store or flea market find its way to long lost relatives of the original owner.   It’s a rewarding hobby!

I’m going to keep Gary’s 1942 New Testament however, for two good reasons.  First, there is no name in the front.  Secondly, the inscription from the United States President is something I want to remember.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this week, it is fitting to recall Franklin D. Roosevelt’s encouragement to the weary troops as they fought in the Second World War. 

My own father, Andrew Wilson, serving in France, received a copy exactly like the one I now possess, and read these uplifting words:

To the Armed Forces,

As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States.  Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration.  It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.

This message, penned sixty years ago, still rings true today, though political correctness in the public arena makes for tougher sledding.

For instance, a few months ago, contrary to FDR’s admonition, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, banned the Bible.

A memorandum on visitation rules stated, “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.”

“This is very ironic,” observed Tony Perkins, of Family Research Council. “We’re talking about the ability of family members to read from a Bible to their wounded or even dying family members who fought to defend that same liberty. If the freedom of those who have sworn to give their lives defending such freedoms can be taken away, what can we expect for the rest of us?”

Thankfully, the public outcry was so great that they quickly rescinded the Bible ban.  Perhaps those who tried to ban it ought to read it.  They might just find some needed wisdom, counsel and inspiration.

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