Our National Motto
On Sunday, February 7, 1954, President Dwight David Eisenhower (34th President) gave a radio address that emphasized the importance of Godliness and spirituality in American history. “Out of faith in God, and through faith in themselves as His children, our forefathers designed and built the Republic,” Eisenhower said. The president gave a brief civics lesson during his radio address that recalled the struggles of the Pilgrims, the testing of George Washington at Valley Forge, and the determined battle of Abraham Lincoln to save the Union: All of these men shared a steadfast belief in God.
At a time of surging popular piety, many Americans welcomed this kind of spiritual direction from their president.
Although Eisenhower embraced religion, biographers insist he never intended to force his beliefs on anyone. In fact, the chapel-like structure near where he and his wife Mamie are buried on the grounds of his presidential library is called the “Place of Meditation” and is intentionally inter-denominational.
At a Flag Day speech in 1954, he elaborated on his feelings about the place of religion in public life when he discussed why he had wanted to include “under God” in the pledge of allegiance: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
On July 30, 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance and after his radio address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency.