Laus Deo! Pass it On

© Anthony J. Sacco, Sr. May 2009

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PINE BLUFFS — From an acquaintance came this delightful piece of history regarding a message imprinted on the top of the Washington Monument. The original author is unknown, but I'm reproducing the piece here, and crediting an "unknown writer," while adding a few of my own comments in brackets throughout.

"One detail that is never mentioned is that in Washington, D.C. there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument. With all the uproar about [eliminating any and all mention of God from secular society simply because it might offend someone], removing the Ten Commandments, [prohibiting any mention of God at commencement exercises, prohibiting prayer in our public schools], etc., this is worth a moment or two of your time. I was not aware of this amazing historical information.

"On [one face of] the aluminum [point] cap [which crowns the apex] of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., are displayed two words: Laus Deo. [There are inscriptions on all four sides of the point or cap, but the other three are simply informatory as to who built the monument, etc.]. No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn't care less.

"Once you know Laus Deo's history, you will want to share this with everyone you know. These words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America.

"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.

"So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say '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 to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation, 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. [Actually, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials were not part of the designer's original plan. They were built many years later. But, the RESULT of it all - original designer's plan, additions, and changes added later - DO amount to an almost perfect cross, thus making this point no less valid]. "A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; separation of church and state was not, is not, in the Constitution [but is a construct developed by activist judges in the 20th Century, interpreting the so-called Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in a way never intended by the founding fathers, by using a phrase first coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter he penned to a Baptist Congregation]. So, read on. How interesting and, no doubt, intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice.

"'Praise be to God!' Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings [there are between 190 and 195 memorial stones that adorn the landings] the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th Landing [at the 140-foot level] is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; [here it is in its entirety:

may heaven to this union

continue its beneficence

may brotherly affection

with union be perpetual

may the free constitution

which is the work

of our ancestors

Be sacredly maintained

AND ITS ADMINISTRATION

BE STAMPED WITH

WISDOM AND VIRTUE.

On the 20th landing 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 deposited within it were 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 democracy, 'One Nation, Under God.'

"I am awed by Washington's prayer [as first written, this was not a prayer at all, but the concluding paragraph of a letter which Washington sent to all the state governors, upon his disbanding of the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War. It was written not by Washington but by his aide de camp, David Cobb, for and approved by Washington. It has been interpreted by some as a prayer, and its words are no less sacred] for America. Have you ever read it? Well, now is your unique opportunity, so read on!

{'Almighty God} [These words were not in the original]; 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 one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol [including on the front of the Supreme Court Building, and on the doors inside], he or she will 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, or these words [taken from Psalms 127:1, and quoted by Dwight David Eisenhower when he took his oath of office as the 34th President of the United States]:

"Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand

guard in vain."

"It is hoped you will send this to every child you know; to every sister, brother, father, mother or friend. They will not find offense, because you have given them a lesson in history that they probably never learned in school. With that, be not ashamed, or afraid, but have pity on those who will never see this because someone failed to send it on."

[Well, will you! Send it on, I mean. Or send everyone you know to this site to read it? Or better yet, will you stand up and be counted in the fight against the leftists, the ultra-liberals, the secularists, the appeasers, who would remove from our society the sacred name and even the memory of the God to whom we all owe so much?]

[If not you, then who?]


Anthony J. Sacco, a writer, licensed private investigator, author of two novels; The China Connection, and Little Sister Lost, and a biography, Echoes in the Wind, holds degrees from Loyola College of Maryland and the University of Maryland Law School. His articles have appeared in the Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Voices for the Unborn, the Catholic Review, WREN Magazine and the Wyoming Catholic Register. E-mail him at AnthonyjSacco@hotmail.com and visit his blog at AnthonyjSaccosr.townhall.com. His work is also available at Triond, an Internet Magazine.