Take a trip to our nation’s capital and you will be amazed at the history, beauty and spirit of this great city. When I first visited, I was in awe of the architectural beauty and massive size of many buildings such as the Treasury Building. I had never before seen a building that took up the space of a full city block. One thing you will notice is the skyline is not filled with skyscrapers. Thomas Jefferson’s plan for the city was that it would have a “Light and Airy” feel, similar to Paris.
On Washington’s 100th birthday, the Washington National Monument Society was formed by John Marshall and James Madison. The society sponsored a design competition. Robert Mills who had recently completed a memorial of Washington in Baltimore won that competition. He proposed a 600 ft. flat topped obelisk ringed by thirty 100 ft. columns and surrounded by a neoclassical round base.
In 1848, soon after the cornerstone was laid on the foundation, Robert Mills died. The project was then given to Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey. Casey modified the original design by adding a peak, omitting the round base and thirty columns. Construction began using marble from a quarry in Baltimore and continued for 20 years bringing the structure to a height of 152 feet. Construction was halted in 1850 due to lack of funding. The lack of funding was partially due to the Civil War and partially because a group aligned with the “Know Nothing Party” had taken over the Washington National Monument Society through election to the board. This group was so unpopular donations came to a stand-still. The monument stood unfinished for thirty two years. Then in July, 1876 Congress assumed the duty of funding and building the monument.
The Army Corps of Engineers determined that the foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of a structure 600 feet in height, So after reinforcing the foundation, they determined the height should be 555 feet which is ten times the width of the foundation of 55 feet. In August, 1880, construction began again. Since stone from the original quarry was no longer available, stone from a quarry in Massachusetts was used. After adding a couple of layers of the new stone, it was obvious the stone had a noticeably brownish hue. The builders searched for a lighter stone. A much better match was found in another quarry in Baltimore. If you look closely at the monument, you can see the difference in the color of the stones at the bottom compared to those at the top. If you look even more closely you can see the slightly brownish ring just above 152 feet.
It took 100 years from the death of George Washington to complete the monument. The capstone weighing 3300 pounds topped with an aluminum cap was set December 6, 1884. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, and officially opened in October 1988. It is the tallest obelisk in the world. The walls at the base are 15 feet thick. Its weight is 81,120 tons. A climb of 896 stairs takes you to the top. There are 193 commerative stones that can be seen as you climb to the top. Three Biblical scriptures adorn the walls: Proverbs 10 – 7, Proverbs 22 – 6, and Luke 17 – 6. By law, there can be no building in Washington DC taller than the Washington Monument.
The monument is full of symbolism. There can be no doubt that our founding fathers were men of faith in God. It was never their intent to build a government devoid of reference to God. They did intend that the government would NEVER sponsor a religion, but it was never intended that belief in God be omitted from government. Many visitors visit the monument to see the awesome view from the top. The views of North, South, East, and West form a cross. The North view is of the White House, from the South, the Jefferson Memorial, from the East, the Capital and from the West, the Lincoln Memorial. The distance from the Capital to the Lincoln Memorial is 1.9 miles. The reflection pool is about 1/3 of a mile long and is next to the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Memorial’s reflection is from almost a mile away. That’s awesome.
Many have visited the monument since it was completed. Most are totally unaware of the inscriptions on the capstone. On the North the names of the six Joint Commission members at the setting of the capstone are inscribed with the date of August 2, 1876. On the South the names of four assistants are inscribed along with the Master Mechanic, P.H. McLaughlin. On the West, the dates of the setting of the cornerstone on July 4, 1848, the first stone at 153 feet, August 7, 1880, and the Capstone set date of December 6, 1884.
The East side facing the rising sun bears a Latin inscription, very symbolically placed at the highest point over the most powerful city in the world; LAUS DEO, meaning Praise be to God.
For now, Earlynn’s just sayin’ “I love the heritage of faith in God left for us by our founding fathers.”
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