- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 1999

The first light of the sun when it touches American soil is in a county named for America’s favorite son, George Washington, in the eastern-most state of Maine. The setting sun fades from continental United Sates in the state of Washington, the only state named for the first president. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the north-eastern part of the country, and a road named for Washington runs through Key West, inches above sea level in the southernmost point of the continental United States. Seven mountains, eight streams, nine colleges and universities, 10 lakes, are named for Washington, and there are dozens of paintings, sculptures and stained glass windows of what President Reagan wisely describes as “the most sublime picture in American history,” Washington on his knees in the snow, humbly in prayer.
Washington is the name of 33 counties, 121 towns and villages, and countless streets, monuments, and schools. The heart of this land is our capital city, which is named for Washington, and its tallest building is the Washington monument. On the top metal cap of the monument is inscribed, “Laus deo,” Latin for “praise be to God.”
The “Father of Our Country” is honored all across America, a land God has greatly blessed. Could we be owing that blessing to Washington who in his first inauguration as president placed his hand on an open Bible and added to the words of the Constitution, “So help me God”? He then bent over to kiss the Bible. Could it be that our blessings flow from Washington’s wise choice of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, where the first verse reads in part, “if thou shalt … observe and to so all his commandments … the Lord they God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth”? However, God’s promise to this country is conditional if each of us, as Washington said and did, “do my Duty to God and my country.”
A few years ago, a survey listed the 100 most influential military leaders of all time, leaders from several millennia. Number One was not Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Ghengis Khan, Joan of Arc or even Napoleon. It was this country’s favorite son, George Washington. On his deathbed Napoleon, the man ranked number two, lamented, “They expected me to be another George Washington.” A good case could be made to add to Washington’s apellations, “man of the millennium.”
In the words of Thomas Paine, “By common consent, Washington is regarded as not merely the Hero of the American revolution, but the world’s apostle of liberty. The Revolutionary War was a war of principle, that involved the interests of all mankind.” Even in the television show “Touched by an angel,” the leader of the student revolt in Tiananmen Square was named George Washington Wu, because Washington is the symbol of liberty across continents and centuries.
On Saturday, at Mount Vernon, Americans gathered to re-enact the funeral of George Washington, who died on Dec. 14, 1799, having been taken ill with a severe cold two days before. However, rather than dwell on the depths of death and burial, all Americans should embrace Washington’s lasting example. Here and now at the eve of a new millennium, at the eve of the year 2000, two millennia since the birth of Christ, we should emulate the “man of the millennium.” George Washington wrote in his twice daily prayers for Monday morning. “Direct my thoughts, words, and work … daily … into the likeness of Jesus Christ.”
While one state, Illinois, may be labeled “the land of Lincoln,” from east to west, from north to south, from sea level to mountain top, the United States is truly “the land of Washington.” And properly so, but not just geographically speaking. Washington’s “thoughts, words and work” were primarily responsible for giving birth to this nation.
His colleague in war, his friend and neighbor in peace and the father of Gen. Robert E. Lee, Congressman Henry Lee in his famous eulogy of Washington called him, “first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life; pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere, uniform, dignified and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.”
It is George Washington’s lasting example that we should honor every day, the man who was second to none on the pantheon of the Christian leaders who founded the United States, whose strength derives from being “one nation, under God.”
James Renwick Manship is head of the God and Country Foundation and was appointed to the Mount Vernon Board of Visitors by Gov. James Gilmore III.

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