Last week I paid my tribute to Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president. Today I will pay tribute to George Washington, America’s first president – and whose 289th birthday anniversary will be Monday, Feb. 22. He was born in 1732 in Virginia.
The accolades I could use for George Washington are far too many for my limited space so I will reflect only on the honor bestowed on this man for his service to his country by a grateful nation: his eight years as the Commanding General of a ragtag army that defeated the largest and best equipped army in the world – the British Army; president of the Constitutional Convention; and his eight years as the first president of these United States.
George Washington, I believe, was raised up by God to lead America in its birth years by the God he strongly believed in, the God to whom he prayed often, and often with a pleading heart. There were times when he totally depended on his Creator as at Valley Forge, or at Philadelphia during those trying times when he was bringing divisive voices together in order to forge America’s document of freedom and liberty, its new Constitution, during a very hot summer in 1787 – with its nation of 13 states on the verge of self-destruction, as it is today.
Like Lincoln, Washington was honored by a grateful nation with a monument built to honor him. The Washington Monument, located on the mall in Washington D.C, was begun in 1848 and completed in 1888 – a 40-year time span, a time span equivalent to the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert; a monument 555 feet, 5.125 inches tall, with 898 steps separated by 50 landings.
No other building in Washington D.C. can exceed its height. This monument, in spite of today’s bogus separation of church and state claims, is the center monument that forms a perfect cross and is capped with the Latin words, Laus Deo!, meaning “Praise be to God.” These are fitting words to cap a monument built to honor a man who reverently believed that God lived, that Christ was his Savior, and that his prayers to his Creator were answered, according to his own words, via the Holy Ghost.
Each of the 50 landings in the monument has a memorial stone on which are inscribed tributes to this ‘Father of our nation.’ These tributes are often laced with biblical verses, again acknowledging Washington’s knowledge of and love for his Bible. One verse, from Proverbs 127:1 is telling of the man, and of those who honored him. It reads: “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Are these words not as strongly applicable to those of us who today should be the “watchmen” over a nation whose founders were led by God to create a nation of freedom and liberty and who labored hard to build it.
These words also cause me to believe that Washington was familiar with Matthew 12:25 that reads: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” These are prophetic words that all Americans should deeply ponder, especially today as the U.S. becomes more divided by the day. These are words that every school child in America should memorize and fully comprehend.
Included in the time box put in place at the time the cornerstone was laid in 1848 was a Bible, and a prayer attributed to Washington. It reads: “Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally, that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Laus Deo!
What a fitting and timely prayer for every generation of Americans by the man who was led by God to create a nation of freedom and liberty, a nation founded on “the Laws of Nature’s God.”