The cards are produced locally by The Print Shop in Fort Oglethorpe.
Featured on all three cards is a prayer written by Col. (Monsignor) James H. O'Neill, Patton's chief of chaplains during World War II. The prayer was reproduced on prayer cards and distributed to the troops throughout Patton's command.
The museum has one of the original prayer cards in its collection and this was used to reproduce the Christmas cards.
According to Chris McKeever, executive director of the museum, “The general was rough, tough and crude, but he was a very devout man.”
Just after the first card was produced, the general's grandson, George Patton Waters, spoke at a fund-raising event at the museum and was so impressed with the card that he ordered 200 for his personal use. Waters was five years old when Patton died and was able to recount quite a few memories of his famous grandfather, said McKeever.
The Patton Prayer
According to Col. O'Neill, “General Patton prayed for fair weather for battle. He got it.”
In December 1944, the Germans had taken advantage of one of the worst blizzards in European history to launch a surprise counterattack, soon to be known as The Battle of the Bulge. The 101st Airborne and elements of the 10th Armored Division held Bastogne and needed to be relieved before they ran out of supplies and were overrun.
Over the next nine days the entire Third Army shifted its axis of attack 90 degrees and marched 100 miles while on the attack in a blizzard. In dramatic fashion, Patton directed O'Neill to write a prayer. A quarter-million (250,000) prayer cards were printed and distributed to all the troops, and the weather inexplicably cleared up, allowing the resumption of close air support and the air drop of much-needed supplies to the units holding Bastogne. The German counter-offensive had begun on Dec. 16, and the Third Army broke through to Bastogne on Dec. 26.
The cards are a major fundraiser for the museum and may be purchased as follows: either at the museum located at 6 Barnhardt Circle in Fort Oglethorpe or on-line at 6thcalvarymuseum.com. Prices are $5 for a single card; 12 for $20; 20 for $30; 50 for $50; or, 100 for $80.
One VFW post in Colorado recently purchased 100 cards to give out to its members. McKeever said that each year cards are mailed to the U.S. president and to the governor of Georgia, along with cards to each remaining element of the 6th Cavalry.
Other upcoming events include the 113th reunion of the 6th Cavalry on May 17-19 and a springtime silent auction and social.
For more information, call the museum at 706-861-2860.