Tag archives: Freedom

The World War II Memorial: A Tribute to Our Nation’s Heroes

by Sarah Rumpf

July 30, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous post on the Lincoln Memorial.

On the National Mall, situated between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, stands the World War II Memorial. The memorial honors the 16 million men and women who served in the United States’ armed forces, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions of civilians who supported the war effort from home. Today, the World War II Memorial is a poignant reminder of the spirit, strength, and sacrifice of the American people during the largest armed conflict in history.

World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945. But it wasn’t until 1987 that the idea of a national monument memorializing the war was born. Roger Durbin, a World War II veteran, approached Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, with the suggestion. Representative Kaptur introduced the World War II Memorial Act to the House of Representatives on December 10, 1987. However, the bill did not pass in 1987, nor in 1989 or 1991, when it was reintroduced. However, on March 17, 1993, the Senate finally approved the Act, and Rep. Kaptur’s tireless advocacy finally paid off. The World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 25, 1993, and on May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the completed memorial.

The World War II Memorial is comprised of a pool and fountains flanked by two archway pavilions and surrounded by 56 granite pillars arranged in an oval. Each pillar stands 17 feet tall and is inscribed with the name of a U.S. state or territory. The states alternate around the oval in the order that they ratified the U.S. Constitution. The pavilions, each adorned with eagles and a laurel wreath, represent the two theaters of the war, Atlantic and Pacific. A medallion shows the striking image of Nike, goddess of victory, standing on the helmet of Mars, god of war—indicating the U.S. victory over the war. The memorial features quotes from presidents and generals throughout. One inscription from President Harry Truman states, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

War memorials are a focal point for remembrance, both for individual families and for a collective culture, and play a vital role in ensuring that a permanent record and an everlasting tribute is appointed to lives given and affected during wartime. The World War II Memorial expresses the emotions of sacrifice, sorrow, and, eventually, victory. It acts as a historical touchstone that links the past to the present, enabling its 4.83 million annual visitors to remember and respect the sacrifices of those who fought, died, or were affected by the war.

The World War II Memorial challenges and inspires its visitors to consider the cost of the freedom that we enjoy. The sheer number of Americans who laid down their lives, marked by a wall of 4,048 gold stars, reminds us that freedom requires sacrifice. For Christians, it may evoke thoughts of the greatest sacrifice of all—Christ laying down His life for the sins of mankind. 1 John 2:2 states, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our but also for the sins of the whole world.” Without Christ sacrificing Himself for us, we have no forgiveness and no freedom from our sin.

Without monuments like the World War II Memorial, it can be easy to forget the hardships endured and sacrifices made by previous generations. Our freedom only exists today because of the brave actions of those who believed that freedom was worth tremendous sacrifice. The World War II Memorial should inspire us to fight for freedom and against injustice in our world. Moreover, if so many American heroes were willing to sacrifice their lives for our nation’s freedom, how much more should we Christians be willing to sacrifice for the spread of the gospel, which gives the ultimate freedom—freedom from sin.

Sarah Rumpf is an Events intern at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Updated Hostility Report Shows Religious Organizations on the Front Lines of the Fight for Religious Freedom

by Family Research Council

June 30, 2017

At most metro stops in D.C., workers give out free copies of the Washington Post Express to commuters. The week before Family Research Council published its updated report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” the front of the Express was covered by a full-page advertisement sponsored by Catholics for Choice. It pictured a caricature of a bishop, pointing at the reader like Uncle Sam, with the caption, “We want YOU to help us discriminate.” On the inside flap, the ad chastised Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities that decline to offer birth control, abortions, or facilitate same-sex marriage, claiming that this is intolerable discrimination. These are not new allegations. Catholics for Choice ran a similar ad last year, and the ACLU hosts an “Issues” page that outlines their mission to fight organizations that use “religion to discriminate.”

The ability of organizations to operate according to their beliefs is an increasingly significant battleground in the fight for religious liberty. Bolstered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and increased support for sexual autonomy among the public, liberal organizations are no longer content to see the government affirm the LGBT rights movement—religious groups must acquiesce as well.

FRC’s updated report highlights a few poignant examples of this opposition to the freedom of religious organizations:

  • In the last decade, Catholic Charities has lost millions in government contracts and sometimes shut down entire branches rather than act in violation of Catholic teachings about abortion or marriage.
  • A group of Christian colleges had to seek an administrative exemption in 2014 from an Obama administration regulation that would have barred them from requiring teachers to follow biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools faced protests and were lambasted in the media for their petition.
  • In 2015, a Catholic school was sued and settled out of court with a fired teacher that identified as homosexual. It was allegedly illegal for the school to require instructors to follow Church teachings concerning homosexuality.
  • Two separate religious hospitals were sued in 2017 and criticized for not offering gender reassignment surgery to patients who identified as transgender.

Beyond the pragmatic harm that lawsuits and boycotts inflict on organizations, these mounting attacks threaten the very heart of what it means to be a religious group. Religious convictions are the impetus for religious organizations. For example, belief in justice and mercy motivates charities and hospitals, belief in specific ethical and philosophical principles motivates religious schools, and religious nonprofits often advance a targeted worldview. For these institutions to abandon their principles would be to sacrifice the integrity of their mission. Yet the radical left has used its political and legal power to require them to do just that.

The aforementioned stories highlight the stunning hypocrisy of progressive activists’ attacks on religious freedom: amidst their cries for tolerance, they refuse to tolerate beliefs that they disagree with. They demand that religious institutions check their beliefs at the door and act according to the majority sentiment rather than the dictates of their faith. Moreover, it is the opponents of religious liberty who are “forcing their beliefs on others” by demanding that organizations comply with the progressive left’s beliefs that abortion is not murder, same-sex marriages can be sacrosanct, and those who identify as transgender should be fully affirmed in their chosen identity.

Our laws must safeguard the right of religious organizations to act on their beliefs. The free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, does not simply protect the right to think or believe whatever we want (no one is going after our thoughts – yet). The First Amendment is special because it protects the right to act according to our beliefs, hence the term “exercise.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court has affirmed this principle in recent cases like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled that family businesses can opt-out of covering abortion-causing drugs and services if doing so violates their sincere religious convictions. Such decisions must become the norm to protect not only religious business owners, but religious organizations and religious liberty itself. Without the freedom to believe and act according to those beliefs, the freedom of religion is irreparably devalued.

To read more of the updated FRC report “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States,” please visit: http://www.frc.org/hostilityreport

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