“A Prayer for United Nations” By Stephen Vincent Benet
Stephen Vincent Benet (1898-1943) is an American poet, novelist, and short story writer, interested in fantasy and American themes. His best known works are “John Brown’s Body” and a short story called “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”
“A Prayer for United Nations” was read by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the nation on June 14, 1942. Read it to find out what the United Nations were praying for in 1942. Aim further to summarize what United Nations stands for:
God of the free, we pledge our hearts and lives today to the cause of all free mankind.
Grant us victory over the tyrants who would enslave all free men and nations. Grant us faith and understanding to cherish all those who fight for freedom as if they were our brothers. Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but for the days to come which shall and must unite all the children of earth.
Our earth is but a small star in the great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory. Grant us that courage and foreseeing to begin this task today that our children and our children’s children may be proud of the name of man.
The spirit of man has awakened and the soul of man has gone forth. Grant us the wisdom and the vision to comprehend the greatness of man’s spirit that suffers and endures so hugely for a goal beyond his own brief span. Grant us honor for our dead who died in the faith, honor for our living who work and strive for the faith, redemption and security for all captive lands and peoples. Grant us patience with the deluded and pity for the betrayed. And grant us the skill and valor that shall cleanse the world of oppression and the old base doctrine that the strong must eat the weak because they are strong.
Yet most of all grant us brotherhood, not only for this day but for all our years–a brotherhood not of words but of acts and deeds. We are all of us children of earth-grant us that simple knowledge. If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed. If they hunger we hunger. If their freedom is taken away our freedom is not secure. Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peace–that he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best, not only in our own lands, but throughout the world. And in that faith let us march toward the clean world our hands can make. Amen.