Faces on Faith: The Washington Monument and Laus Deo
Overlooking the 69 square miles that comprise the District of Columbia stands the Washington Monument. On its aluminum cap are displayed two words: Laus Deo. These two Latin words, made up of just four syllables and only seven letters, mean “Praise be to God!” They are significantly placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.
Construction of this monument began in 1948, when James Polk was president. From the top of the magnificent granite and marble structure, there is a panoramic view of the city with its four major segments. To the north is the White House, to the south is the Jefferson Memorial, to the east is the Capitol, and to the west is the Lincoln Memorial.
Inside the monument are 898 steps and 50 landings. On the 12th landing is a prayer offered by the city of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th is a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6.
When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4, 1848, items deposited within it included the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first president of our unique democracy – One Nation, Under God. George Washington’s prayer for America reflects his recognition of dependency upon God.
“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.”
The Rev. Dr. Stephen LeBar is the interim senior pastor at the Sanibel Community Church.