Christian Men's Breakfast

Presentation by Chuck Esposito

April 5, 2003


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"General George Patton"

Thank you I.T., and good morning gentlemen.

This morning I have a short story I'd like to share with you.

ln December 1944, American soldiers were fighting desperately against the last great German offensive of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. Men were dying in large numbers. The counterattack had bogged down in mud and rain. Planes could not fly because of low clouds. General George Patton, commander of the Third Army, called his chaplain into his headquarters, and the two men had the following exchange:

Patton began by addressing the Chaplain: I want you to publish a prayer for good weather. I'm tired of these soldiers having to fight mud and floods as well as Germans. See if we can't get God to work on our side.

Chaplain James O'Neill: May I say, General, that it usually isn't a customary thing among men of my profession to pray for clear weather to kill fellow men.

Patton: Chaplain, are you teaching me theology or are you the Chaplain of the Third Army? I want a prayer.

O'Neill: Yes, sir.

The prayer was printed on a card and distributed to every soldier of the Third Army. It read:

Almighty and most merciful God, we humbly beseech thee, of thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon thee that, armed with thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish thy justice among men and nations. Amen.

An editor's footnote in Patton's memoirs tells what happened next:

"The day after the prayer was issued, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days. Enough to allow the Allies to break the backbone of the German offensive and turn a temporary setback for the Allies into a crushing defeat for the enemy."

Regardless of what you think of President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq, the fact is that we have a couple of hundred thousand young American men and women in uniform, in harm’s way, and they deserve our prayers. I pray for them every day, and I would ask you to do the same.

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