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A Little History

The Washington Monument and Laus Deo-II 

There are many, many monuments in our Capitol that remind us that our Founders were Christians, that only a fraction were not, but that all honored God.  They used a variety of names from the Scriptures by which to acknowledge Him and their basis for the government of these United States is the Holy Bible.  What monument comes to your mind when you think of Washington, D. C.?  Perhaps itís the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument is, in the opinion of most people in this country, the most honored.  This is undoubtedly true, otherwise, why would it have been decided that there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument?  It is a credit to those who planned and built that monument that it honors our first president but honors our God even more.  How can we know that?

The words, LAUS DEO, on the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument can be seen only by our God!  In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there.  But these words have been there for many years.  Those words, only 5.125 inches high, perched top the monument, face skyward to the One our first president acknowledged is the real Father of our nation.

Laus Deo!  Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words.  Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.  And why is that?  Could the fact that her citizens have and do honor the one to whom those two words are addressed?

Those two words, those four syllables, composed of only seven letters, written in Latin have a glorious meaning: "Praise be to God!"

Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was President of the United States, it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public.  It took twenty five years (as noted in the previous article) to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation.  How he would have rejoiced to have seen those words attributed to the One he called his Saviour: Laus Deo.............Praise be to God!"

From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments.  From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l'Enfant...a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north.  The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.

Do you wonder that a cross formed the basis of Pierre Charles l'Enfantís plan for our capitol?  Yes, a cross: separation of church and state was not in our Foundersí thoughts nor is it in the Constitution.  Laus Deo, Praise be to God!

Further proof that ours was founded as a nation that recognized Jehovah-Jireh as our God, are the many evidences that have been a part of Washington, D. C. from its very founding.  As one climbs the steps of the Washington monument itself ones appreciation grows for there are 898 steps and 50 landings with pauses at each landing whereon are memorial stones carrying each its own message: 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 a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6.  Praise be to God!

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848, within it were deposited many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society.  Praise be to God! 

Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique republic: "One Nation, Under God."  "Praise be to God!"

Our first President, Washington's, prayer for America shows his adoration for our Divine Providence (another of his favorite expression for 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."

Laus Deo!

When you stop to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol, you can easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look.  You may forget the width and height of "Laus Deo", its location, or the architects, but no one who reads this will be able to forget its meaning.

Every father, mother, child, every sister, brother, or friend could rejoice with us if they could just read this.  May it never be said of us that we shirked our duty to raise up the glorious name of our God: Laus Deo; Praise be to God!

Psalm 127:1

Except the Lord build the house,

They labour in vain that build it: 

Except the Lord keep the city, 

The watchman waketh but in vain.

Thanks to Dr. Ruth Kreiss, my sister-in-law, and to my daughter, Mrs. Doris Mathews for bringing this lovely bit of our history to our attention.

For reference:

The Washington Monument's "pyramidion":


Posted 04/3/2006 by Yevette Woodruff

Thank you for this wonderful information, I will pass this on to those in our church, Coastal Baptist Church, St. Mary's, GA. Amazing what they leave out of the history books!!

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