A Prayer

1.

The following prayer was composed by Dr. Gordon Livingston, who graduated from West Point and did three tours in Vietnam as a surgeon with the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment. At a 1968 ceremony for General George S. Patton IV, Livingston distributed the prayer to a couple hundred people in attendance.

“God, our heavenly Father, hear our prayer. We acknowledge our shortcomings and ask thy help in being better soldiers for thee. Grant us, O Lord, those things we need to do thy work more effectively. Give us this day a gun that will burn ten thousand rounds a second, a napalm which will burn a week. Help us to bring death and destruction wherever we go, for we do it in thy name and therefore it is meet and just…Forget not the least of thy children as they hide from us in the jungles; bring them under our merciful hand that we may end their suffering. In all things, O God, assist us, for we do our noble work in the knowledge that only with thy help can we avoid the catastrophe of peace which threatens us forever. All of which we ask in the name of thy son, George Patton. Amen.”

2.

“I was at a very, kind of, sobering thing last night, a memorial service for four men in the Second Squadron who were killed the other day, one of them being a medic. And the place was just packed, and we sang three hymns, had a nice prayer; I turned around and looked at their faces and they were, I was just proud, my feeling for America just soared because of the way they looked, they looked determined, and reverent at the same time. But still they’re a bloody good bunch of killers.”

–General George S. Patton, from an interview in Peter Davis, Hearts and Minds

Livingston’s prayer is taken from Gloria Emerson, Winners & Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses and Ruins from a Long War ( New York: Random House, 1976), 21.

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