In honor of Memorial Day, we salute all of those who courageously gave their lives to protect our great nation and the values it espouses by highlighting the military’s steadfastness, discipline, order, bravery, humility, integrity and respect, reflected in the below excerpts, creed and poems. Happy Memorial Day!
Virtue & The Soldier’s Soul (taken from Endowed by Their Creator: A Collection of Historic Military Prayers 1774-Present, 2012)
“Virtue is the ‘animating spirit’ of the American military and is the ‘keynote’ of a Commander’s sworn duty of exemplary behavior, supervision and correction.”
“Successful armies consist of uniformly disciplined, patriotic, well-trained, obedient soldiers, whose high morale demonstrates a special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of their military officers and civilian military leaders.”
“…General George C. Marshall, author of ‘The Marshall Plan’ to rebuild Europe after World War II, taught that morale comes from ‘the religious fervor of the soul.’ It is the essential element of achieving military objectives, and is ignored at great peril, when soldiers hold only guns and orders, with no strength of virtue.”
“…I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment…the soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his command and his country in the end.”
“In 1828, Noah Webster defined ‘soul’ as; ‘The spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man…which enables him to think and reason, and which renders him a subject of moral government.’ The soul’s training for self-government yields a commensurate level of good order and military discipline. American military services are especially constituted to train effective and disciplined forces, to lead and defend the country ‘in time of national peril,’ and must therefore be keen to the soul and the true source of American virtue, honor and patriotism.”
United States Navy SEAL Ethos
Below is the stand that every U.S. Navy SEAL learns:
“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.
Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.
I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.
Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.”
Three military prayers below:
The Prayer of a Midshipman
from Vice-Admiral Harry W. Hill (1890-1971) Superintendent, United States Naval Academy
“Almighty Father, whose way is in the sea, whose paths are in the great waters, whose command is over all and whose love never fails: Let me be aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and in deed, and helping me so to live that I can stand unashamed and unafraid before my shipmates, my loved ones, and Thee. Protect those in whose love I live. Give me the will to do the work of a man and to accept my share of responsibilities with a strong heart and a cheerful mind. Make me faithful to my duties and mindful of the traditions of the Service of which I am a part. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should is the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and keep before me the life of Him by Whose example and help I trust to obtain the answer to my prayer, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
West Point Cadet Prayer
“O God, our father, Thou Searcher of men’s hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth…
Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live about the common level of life.
Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.
Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.
Help us, to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished an unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of All. Amen.”
Prayer by Lieutenant General G.S. Patton, Jr. United States Army Commanding General, Seventh Army (WWII)
In response to a request alongside President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower to contribute a prayer to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Prayer Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1944, General Patton composed the below prayer for courage:
“God of our Fathers, who by land and sea has ever led us on to victory, please continue Your inspiring guidance in this the greatest of our conflicts.
Strengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of self-preservation, which besets all of us in battle, shall not blind me to my duty to my own manhood to the glory of my calling, and to my responsibility to my fellow soldiers.
Grant to our armed forces the disciplined valor and mutual confidence which insures success in war. Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.
If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor in a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the energy, and please, O Lord, protect and guide those I shall leave behind. Give us the victory, Lord. Amen.”