The United States has always had a long-standing history of respecting the faith of its service members in the military. During the Spanish-American War and World War II, there are examples of the military respecting its service members’ need to honor their duty to the Creator. Learn More: FirstLiberty.org/Briefing
The United States military probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Jewish High Holy Days. Yet, thanks to our country’s dedication to religious liberty, our military has often shown its respect for the faith of its service members.
Back in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, about 5,000 Jews served in our country’s military. 4,000 of them put in for furloughs in order to attend services for the Jewish High Holidays.
By 1944, the Nazis had exterminated almost ever Jew in the French village of Verdun. A year later, 500 Jewish-American GI’s would gather in Verdun’s town square to observe Rosh Hashanah.
That same September, on the other side of the globe, B-29 crews occupied the island of Guam. For many of them, it would be their last Rosh Hashanah. The hangar was converted to a Jewish house of worship under the direction of the commanding general for that station, himself not Jewish. Still, men of all faiths built seats, a pulpit, the Holy Ark for Scriptures, erected lighting, and even a sound system. 1,500 men would pray for “Peace to him who is far off and to him that is near.”
These are just a handful of ways in which the United States military, even during times of war, acknowledged the essence of the First Amendment: that men have a great duty to the Creator that government must respect.