André Louis Arthur Zirnheld
Born in 1913, Zirnheld was killed in action in Libya, in July 1942, during a raid behind enemy lines while serving as a parachutist in the Free French Army. A college philosophy professor before the war, Aspirant Zirnheld served in one of the very first companies of the famed British SAS.
THE PARATROOPER’S PRAYER
I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things that others never ask of You.
I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquillity.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can’t have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.
Give me what others don’t want.
I want uncertainty and doubt.
I want torment and battle.
And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
so I can be sure to always have them,
because I won’t always have the strength to ask again.
But give me also the courage, the energy,
and the spirit to face them.
I ask You these things Lord, because I can’t ask them of myself.
Written by Lieutenant Andre Zirnheld, circa 1942
Translated from the original French by Robert Petersen
This prayer was found on the body of Aspirant (Lt.) Andre Zirnheld, killed in action in Libya, in July 1942, during a raid behind enemy lines. Though Lt. Zirnheld never served in the Foreign Legion, all French Paratroopers, the Legion included, have adopted his prayer.
Webmasters Note: I extend my gratitude to Emmanuel Paccoud of Brittany, who provided the initial link from which the information about Andre Zirnheld was obtained; in particular, the more accurate translation of Zirnheld’s Prayer.
Anthony W. Pahl: April 12, 2005