Prayer for the United States of America… (Originally posted in August of 2015)

11898764_910422555691360_418488767565490469_n(Considering all that’s going on around us in soon to be “post Obama” America, I felt compelled to re-post this…)

Sitting on George Washington’s front lawn with my son generated a myriad of emotions in my brain and soul. Pride, awe, fear and even sadness washed over me like the waters of the Potomac. To gaze out upon that which our first “Commander in Chief” strode with his wife Martha (Patsy to him) Washington, in tired relief after returning from Philadelphia at the close of his political career, was nothing short of breathtaking. A subsequent tour of the Mansion gave a glimpse into our national history that I hadn’t experienced since visiting the estate as a grade school student. As good fortune would have it on that hot August day, my son Zachary was chosen to place a ceremonial wreath next to the sarcophagus containing the remains of the late General while I read Washington’s prayer for his burgeoning nation. And while extreme pride and awe punctuated that day next to Washington’s tomb, I felt a profound sense of fear and sadness as I listened to the gathering crowd cackling along the manicured walkways, seemingly oblivious the posted signs requesting reverence and quiet to honor the memory of Washington.

11891218_910422585691357_706061310003643601_nMy recent trip to the DC area and Virginia was meant to be a learning experience for my 12 year-old, and it certainly was, though he probably learned a lot more than I expected he would. The National Mall and even Mount Vernon seemed merely tourist attractions rather than significant historical sites to the throngs of visitors lounging about the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial. They were mostly oblivious to the engraved quotes and speeches that were hallmarks of Lincoln’s life. And while the history and facts were obvious and all around, many younger folks including what seemed an unusual number of overseas tourists appeared indifferent to the magnitude of what they were seeing. Arlington National Cemetery was much the same, with people chatting up the cost of lunch, completely detached from the ground they were standing on. I thought to myself, “Do these folks have any idea of the sacrifice made in theirs and their children’s names, and which permeates these grassy hills and rows upon rows of white head-stones”? And as my wife and son were the only ones to approach and shake the hand of an aging Korean War Vet sitting by a memorial to the conflict, I was actually sad as it felt like our great history was simply fading away. Indeed much had changed since 1974.

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Jonathan Wood, an actor who plays the role of Christopher Sheels for George Washington’s Mount Vernon…

Now there is great debate in this time, as the Left attempts to re-write our national history while the Right struggles with its own principles. I even argue a bit with learned folks from time to time over the importance/significance of the United States of America in the “bigger picture” if you will. During our visit to Mount Vernon we had the privilege of experiencing what is called a “Through their eyes” tour which includes a factual representation of life on the estate during the colonial days as performed by a period actor. Our particular tour was represented by “Christopher Sheels”, (Jonathan Wood) the Generals personal “body servant” from 1774 until the time of Washington’s death, and it did enlighten me to many evils of slavery I hadn’t considered, while educating me on a number of other facts as well. The experience was truly amazing, however it did remind me of my struggle with the idea that some are rather comfortable with revisionism, mischaracterization, and/or allowing our storied history to evaporate like so much rye whiskey on the floor of Washington’s distillery. My mind wondering though, this had absolutely nothing to do with the riveting and wholly accurate portrayal of Mr. Sheels and his life as a slave on the Washington plantation. Quite to the contrary, my thought was that this individual should be touring U.S. school’s year round. But it did remind me of two important facts which I believe are part of the current political conversation in America and around the globe. The first is that it’s certainly incumbent upon “We the People” of this generation to pass on all of our accurate history, mistakes and missteps included, and of the “melting-pot” free people who ultimately framed our history. Secondly, though no less important to be sure, is for us to remind our posterity of the unique and frankly unprecedented contributions of men like George Washington, and also about how unlike nations past (and present), it took the United States a mere 239 years to change the world for the better and forever. Mind you these are not excuses, but rather facts which must be included in any debate.

11866450_910588339008115_421648823109577298_nIn the end, it was probably my desire to embrace the nation I’ve come to understand as the greatest arrangement for human kind under God” which brought me back to the President’s mansion on the Potomac. It may also have been that I personally needed to hear “Christopher’s” story. Or perhaps it was so my son could stand by the coffin of the man who fought so bravely on his behalf and those of generations yet to come. I’m not sure, but one thing was for certain as we left the lights of DC behind in the small windows of our US AIR jet, and it was that my grateful family would never take for granted the efforts and endeavors of the folks who laid the groundwork for the liberty we all enjoy today. Nor would we be blind to those mistakes and lessons of a generation of people born in the time of slavery, but who also recognized the greater good of their efforts and eventually forged a nation by way of much blood and enormous personal sacrifice.

Truth be told, no such nation was or ever shall be perfect. This is not in question. However, if we as a free republic cannot (or simply refuse to) see the foundational differences and historical reference points which separate us from every other nation in human history, then any efforts to reconcile true or even perceived grievances along the way remain an exercise in futility and politics. Only working together as one free people shall we overcome and “live out the true meaning of our creed”. Then, and only then, may we restore the reverence and respect I felt was so lacking in our nations capital this past summer.

Note: It was during my recent trip to Washington and Northern Virginia that I was compelled to reaffirm my allegiance to God and this nation. And though my faith is firm in the belief that the Almighty shall ultimately determine our collective destiny in America (and in the world), I’m equally determined to advance the inherent goodness of our country (with the aforementioned sins and lessons learned), through my son, in the hopes “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. Can there be any more worthy cause?

George Washington’s Prayer for the United States of America

untitledAlmighty 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 of America 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 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

 

 

A very special thank you to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, who took up the cause of Mount Vernon in 1860 and have restored and preserved it for the nation ever since. Quoting:  In 1853, Louisa Bird Cunningham was traveling on the Potomac River and passed by Mount Vernon in the moonlight. Struck by its appearance, and fearing that it would soon be lost to the nation for lack of upkeep, Cunningham wrote a letter to her daughter Ann Pamela Cunningham. In the letter, Cunningham commented that “if the men of the United States would not save the home of its greatest citizen, perhaps it should be the responsibility of the women“.

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One Response to Prayer for the United States of America… (Originally posted in August of 2015)

  1. Walt Kachanis says:

    For those who have a strong patriotic love of our country a visit to the national mall is a walk in history. Too many people miss this feeling of pride as they are too busy yakking away and merely glancing at objects rather than taking in the history they represent..

    Thanks for sharing Fred, and for reminding me of our country’s greatness.(a country that was blessed by God during it’s early years, and I pray it still is.)

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