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O God, the Creator of life,
to Whom the bereaved human heart turns for compassion and solace,
to you we open our hearts,
sorely stricken by the wanton destruction of life through man’s own hand.
With tender love we recall dear ones lost in the service of their country
while striving selflessly and bravely
to remove from us the evil which men have contrived.
With crushed spirit we remember the countless innocent victims
whose lives have been ruthlessly cut short
by men who brazenly defy your laws of truth, justice and love.
Hearken, O merciful One, unto our fervent prayer
and turn speedily the men of wickedness from their misguided course,
so that peace may once more rule the courses of men.
Remove the blindness wherewith lust for power
has veiled their eyes
and turned their hearts to stone,
laying waste your precious gift of life.
And as for us who still walk in this path of life,
make us firm in our resolve to pursue righteousness and peace
so that the sacrifice of these lost ones
whom we reverently recall this day
shall not have been in vain.
May their souls be bound up in the bond of life eternal, O Heavenly Father,
and may we be found worthy of being inscribed in your book of life and peace.
“Memorial Prayer (for those lost through human strife)” by Rabbi Alexander Goode, was shared by his wife Theresa Goode and published alongside other prayers of military leaders in the anthology, The Prayer Book of the Armed Forces (ed. Daniel A. Poling, 1951), p. 35. Rabbi Morrison David Bial added it to his collection of supplemental prayers and texts for personal prayer and synagogue services: An Offering of Prayer (Temple Sinai of Summit, New Jersey, 1962). As Rabbi Bial notes, Rabbi Goode was one of the four chaplains who died in the sinking of the SS Dorchester. The sinking of the Dorchester and the deaths of Rabbi Goode and his fellow chaplains are remembered on February 3rd, Four Chaplain’s Day. I have lightly modified the original text of this prayer, replacing Thee and Thy with ‘you’ and ‘your’ respectively. –Aharon Varady
“Memorial Prayer for Those Lost Through Human Strife, by Rabbi Chaplain (Lieutenant) Alexander David Goode (ca. 1943)” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה | A Prayer for the Welfare of the Government of Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII (from A Naye Shas Tkhine Rav Pninim, ca. 1942)
Prayer at the Dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff on 13 November 1982
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan on 7 February 2012
“That America’s Heroes Shall Not Have Died in Vain” with a special El Malé Raḥamim prayer for Memorial Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)