Among the things found in her home was a pocket-sized New Testament. It was in the buffet in her living room and it was given to my wife. The cover says:
THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES
It’s an unassuming little book, with kind of a brown/olive green cover fitting of its G.I status. It is cloth-bound and the edges of the cover and its corners show some wear from having spent some time in someone’s pocket. Some of the pages have wrinkled corners and there are some stains on a couple of pages in the book of St. John. (Yes, it was called that back then.)
Obviously, it had been used.
Inside, it says it was printed at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. in 1942.
I did some research and found similar New Testaments, in both Catholic and Protestant Versions, for sale online for between $5 and $30. Being that 16 million Americans served in WWII, and presumably most of them were issued one, this is not a rare book at all.
Of course, The United States had been drawn into WWII by the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. But, the nation had been preparing for war for a couple of years before that. Despite a strong isolationist political movement in this country, we had been supplying the Allies with vast amounts of war materials prior to our actual entry into the war. The mandatory draft had been reinstated in the U.S. in 1940 and the number of troops was ten times the peace-time number by the time we could no longer avoid being involved.
The part of this little book that caught my eye was on the first page. It reads:
THE WHITE HOUSE
March 6, 1941
To the Members of the Army:
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.
Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D Roosevelt
At this point in our national history, I can think of no better sentiment to set us all on our paths for the coming year.
God bless you all.
Today’s PraiseFor the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.(1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV)