The nation's best-known memorial to the first president of the United States is located in the city that bears his name.
Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed, Latin 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.
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 of the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America.
A detail usually never mentioned is that in Washington, D.C., there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument.
On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument, are displayed two words: Laus Deo
No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there.
With all the uproar about removing the Ten Commandments, removing God from our schools, etc., this is worth a moment or two of your time.
Why Are These Words Displayed There?
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 completed and opened to the public.
It took twenty-five years to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation.
So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, "Praise Be To God!"
Found On The Aluminum Cap
JOINT COMMISSI AT SETTING OF CAPSTONE
CHESTER A. ARTHUR,
W. W. CORCORAN, Chairman
Act of August 2, 1876
CORNER STONE LAID ON BED OF FOUNDATION
JULY 4, 1848
FIRST STONE AT HEIGHT OF 152 FEET LAID
AUGUST 7, 1880
CAPSTONE SET DECEMBER 6, 1884
CHIEF ENGINEER AND ARCCHITECT,
THOS. LINCOLN CASEY,
COLONEL, CORPS OF ENGINEERS.
GEORGE W. DAVIS,
CAPTAIN, 14TH INFANTRY.
BENARD R. GREEN,
P. H. MCLAUGHLIN.
A Beautiful Panoramic View Of The City
The form of a perfect cross is made up of 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.
From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into these four major segments.
From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles L'Enfant, upon the landscape.
Why A Cross?
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.
When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4, 1848, deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society.
Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood of the founder and first President of our unique democracy, 'One Nation, Under God."
How interesting and, no doubt, L'Enfant intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice.
The present monument doesn't really resemble Robert Mills' original design. It called for a huge colonnade surrounding the base of the nearly flat-topped, four-sided 600-foot obelisk. The colonnade was to house statues of Revolutionary War heroes and to be topped with a statue of Washington in a chariot.
The current location is slightly south and east of the original site selected by L'Enfant, which turned out to be unable to support the weight of such a massive structure.
There are approximately 193 memorial stones which adorn the landings throughout the Washington Monument. They were contributed by each state, as well as other countries, departments, organizations, military units, Native American Tribes, and other groups. Visitors are no longer allowed to climb the fifty flights of stairs within the Monument since the 1970s, except on guided tours, in large part because too many memorial stones were damaged by souvenir-chipping vandals.
The latter stone also includes a representation of an open Bible in relief at its center, on which are inscribed two Biblical quotations relating to children: Luke 18:16, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God" and Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Since the political divisions that ultimately led to the Civil War were looming as the Monument was completed, some of the memorial stones include inscriptions entreating Heaven to preserve the Union, such as a stone at the 140-foot landing, contributed by the city of Baltimore, which reads as follows:
"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."
George Washington's Words Of Wisdom
What is known as Washington's Prayer For America is, in actuality, the last paragraph of a circular letter dated June 8, 1783, addressed to the governors of the thirteen states upon disbanding the Continental Army a the end of the Revolutionary War.
His words were not a prayer and were later modified from the original. Not at any time in his writings, did Washington refer to Jesus Christ by name.
Following are the original words from his letter:
"Now I make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that He would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens and the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field. Finally, that He would, most graciously, be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and blessed religion. Without an humble imitation of His example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation. I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant." George Washington
Our world, as we know it, is changing faster than most of us have the ability to keep up. In my sixty years, I have seen these changes, some which are amazing and others that worry me greatly.
The loss of faith in God in America has made the most overwhelming changes both to our moral culture and our government.
It is my firm belief that our forefathers were lead by God to make the decisions they made and without His leadership, America will fall.
How soon will it fall? It is falling as we speak, crumbling away at its own hands. If I offend anyone, I am not sorry. I am far more concerned that we have offended God after He has been so generous with this country and its people!
As you might have guessed, I like the idea that our Pledge of Allegiance includes the phrase "under God."
It is clear, when one studies the history of our great nation, that Washington's America was one of the few countries in all the world established under the guidance, direction, and banner of the Almighty God. To Him was given all praise, honor, and worship by the great men who formed and fashioned her vital physical and moral foundations.
When we stop to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol, we will easily find the 'Signature Of God!'
We have been great but our greatness came from the hand of the Lord, not from our own devices. Under our own direction, we falter and drop to our knees.
However, on our knees is exactly where we should be, asking His forgiveness and pleading for His hand to once again be placed upon our heads and to our hearts and the hearts of our leaders.
Under God's signature, and only under His signature, can we be saved from ourselves.
Allen, Thomas B. "The Washington Monument: it Stands For All"
New York: Discovery Books, 2000. ISBN 1-56331-921-7.
Bowling, Kenneth R. "The Creation of Washington D.C."
Fairfax, Va: George mason Univ. Press, 1991. ISBN 0-913969-29-X.
Snopes.com: Laus Deo and Washington Monument
Who Is Mom To The Zoo?
Born in the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1950, I was the oldest of two, five years my sister's senior. It was a wonderful place to grow up where the entire town raised its children. I was always surrounded by people who loved and looked out for me. I graduated from High School with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. At 60, my childhood friends are still my friends. I feel so fortunate to have known such a childhood.
After college, I worked at Clemson University until May 1972. At that time, I married and lived in Glyfada, 22 miles from Athens, Greece for two years...via USAF. We then moved to North Dakota for another two years before returning to South Carolina.
We divorced after 16 years and two children. I married my best friend two years later and moved to Florida in 1988 and together we have raised my husband's son and daughter and my son and daughter...one federal officer, one pastor's wife, one sixth grade school teacher, and the other, after working for Florida Power and Light and later AT&T since age 19, now ownes his own business. In 1996, I adopted my step daughter. We are blessed with four grandsons and one granddaughter.
In 1999, we became foster parents with the Children's Home Society and had a number of children under our roof in the next 5 years. In 2001, we adopted a 13 year old girl, whom we first met at the age of 11, and is now 23. I also have spent more time in a courtroom than I care to think about, fighting for the rights of the children in our care. In 2004, I turned in my license so that I could be a full time Mom to our special needs daughter and keep our infant granddaughter five days a week while her mother was teaching.
Bill, my husband, is a retired USAF Air Traffic Controller. He is now working with Computer Science Raytheon, as their chief controller, contracted out of Patrick AFB, Florida. This enables him to continue to do the job he loves, air traffic, and aid the military.
I am a retired Accountant/Credit Manager, now a housewife, where I enjoy writing, singing, piano, and sewing. I have had numerous poems and short stories published and have sung in churches and for church organizations for years, as well as weddings, a couple of variety shows, and even at my daughter's, and later my son's, weddings, one of the hardest things I have EVER done. We are members of a Baptist church where I am a soloist and sing in the choir. I am also a member of the Women's Bible Study Group and work on the Mission's Committee.
And, last but not least, we have a singing dogs Joey. He is a 3 1/2 year old, 80 pound German Shepherd who thinks himself a lapdog. You can find his story at The Dog's Point Of View .
I have been Mom To The Zoo since the morning after our wedding. My friend, Lee, who was staying with our four children and two dogs answered the phone from a sound sleep, "Hunt Zoo, Zookeeper Speaking."
My life has involved many changes and avenues that I would never have dreamed of and has given me challenges that I never thought I was equal to. But, I have found that God has a plan and, if you follow His lead, you can handle anything he puts in your hands. However, you have to first learn to listen to Him. No matter what we want from life, it must come in His time. He has given my husband and me more than we could have began to imagine back in high school and we have found that what we thought was so important for our futures back then was nothing to what we have done so far. At 60, I have learned from our foster children, to look forward to the future and the next challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If they can trust and love us after what the world has dealt them, we can surely tackle whatever lies ahead with ease. Life is a series of learning experiences and I continue to find life to be both a challenge and a joy which grows with each passing year. I learn more and more about myself with each passing day!
Thank You For Taking The Time To Remember! - What Are Your Thoughts?
Eugenia (author) on April 27, 2013:
@Michey LM: We all are, Michey! :)
Michey LM on April 27, 2013:
You have new history facts which I like a lot.... still learning...
Eugenia (author) on September 07, 2011:
@anonymous: Thank you so much for the added information!!
anonymous on September 07, 2011:
@Momtothezoo: APEX OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT
Work on the monument was finally completed when the capstone was set in place on 7 December 1884. The Washington Monument was officially dedicated on 21 February 1885, and it first opened to the public on 9 October 1888. The apex of the structure was crowned by an aluminum point with four faces, with each face bearing engraved words. Three of the inscriptions present names, dates, and figures associated with the creation of the monument, while the fourth face bears only the two words "LAUS DEO" (a Latin phrase meaning "Praise be to God" or "God be praised").
Because the inscriptions on the monument's capstone (sitting atop the 555-foot high obelisk) are not visible to visitors, a replica of the capstone has been on display in a publicly-accessible area maintained by the National Park Service (NPS) at the 490-foot level of the Washington Monument. The replica rests inside a case set against a wall which displays photographs and information about the construction of the monument.
Sometime recently, however, the exhibit was changed so that the capstone replica, instead of being displayed at an angle relative to the wall behind it (thus making the inscriptions on all four sides viewable), was placed with the side representing the east face of the capstone set parallel to the wall (thus rendering the "LAUS DEO" inscription on that side non-viewable to visitors, as they cannot get between the exhibit case and the wall to see it). The last sentence of the informational card which previously accompanied the capstone exhibit ("The casting was inscribed with the phrase, LAUS DEO, [Praise be to God]") was also omitted in the newer version.
The NPS' Chief of Public Affairs acknowledged the changes, said that they had been made inadvertently when the capstone replica was temporarily moved while the monument was undergoing renovations, and stated that the NPS would restore the exhibit to its previous state.
The replica capstone was on display in a tent on the National Mall during recent renovation of the Monument. When it was moved inside the Monument, it was placed against the wall. While the change in placement and wording was never intended to offend anyone, we understand why some visitors might feel otherwise.
We made a mistake and we are fixing it.
The capstone is being moved away from the wall so that visitors will be able to read the engravings on all four sides. In addition, we will install interpretive panels with the exact language found on all sides of the capstone in letters easy to read. These panels will include the phrase "LAUS DEO"(Praise be to God - in Latin).
Eugenia (author) on May 30, 2011:
@Diana Wenzel: Thank you for sharing my lens...I have been amazed at the number of people who didn't know about it...America needs to know...remember!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on May 30, 2011:
How wonderful to learn about Laus Deo. Amazing that so many of us did not know about the existence of these words high above our nation's capital. Thanks for a beautiful lens. *Blessed.*
Eugenia (author) on May 20, 2011:
@Spook LM: Spook, I have always tried to be understanding of those who are different from me but I draw the line where God is concerned. I KNOW he is the way and the only way...our country is positive proof of that. When they began to kick Him out, we began to fail. It is the same in a person's life. The good Lord does have a "method behind His madness", so to speak, and you find that out whenever we do things the way He tells us to. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I, too, am afraid and the world, as a whole, frightens me...America really frightens me...it is my home and it is crumbling before my eyes.
Spook LM on May 20, 2011:
I'm not an overly religious man but the changes in the world frighten me. It always strikes me as somewhat strange that those striving for "happy holidays" have little, or no tolerance to any ones views apart from their own?
Eugenia (author) on May 15, 2011:
@anonymous: You are welcome!
anonymous on May 15, 2011:
Thanks for the info. Never heard that before.
Eugenia (author) on May 14, 2011:
@anonymous: You are quite welcome, Jan. I have never visited Washington but did know of it from reading about it over the years. I really should make a trip to see our Capitol. Thanks for sharing!
anonymous on May 14, 2011:
Jeanie, I really enjoyed the lens. I have been to Washington DC many time's and never have heard about Laus Deo on the monument. I will pass it on so others can also learn. Thank you!
Eugenia (author) on May 14, 2011:
@Michey LM: Thanks, Michey!!
Michey LM on May 14, 2011:
I lensroll your lens to tow of my lenses: Washington National Cathedral and Vatican City.
Great work and eye opening lens.
Eugenia (author) on May 14, 2011:
@Michey LM: Thank you, Michey...I am glad you have enjoyed...I just needed to vent...I get so annoyed with our nation's foolishness! It is frightening and could so easily be different.
Eugenia (author) on May 14, 2011:
@anonymous: I know, Patsy...our pastor speaks of it often...he is so very concerned with our fate, as am I. We have been a very foolish nation. And what is so sad...we have every instruction for success written by God and our forefathers...all we have to do is read and pay attention.
Michey LM on May 14, 2011:
Jeanie, I learn a lot from this lens, great info, a patriotic approach which I like, beautiful presentation and resource.
anonymous on May 14, 2011:
Jeanie, Words cannot describe how much I love what you have written. I wish that every American could read these wonderful words! Yes, we seem to have turned away from God as a nation and I am afraid that God will turn away from us unless we fall on our knees and get things right with this country and place God first in our lives and everything that we do!
Eugenia (author) on May 14, 2011:
@OhMe: Thank you...I am very glad that you like the lens. I sited my findings, using research on this one as well as my own words. I just get so frustrated with the loss of God within our nation and needed to vent!
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on May 14, 2011:
Oh Wow, Jeanie! This is so wonderful and so very informative. Every American needs to read this and learn about Laus Deo on the Washington Monument.