Letters for Thursday – December 29, 2005

• Researching


By Laus Deo

The letter from Mr. Whelan in the Dec. 26, 2005, GI sounded familiar so I did a little research. His letter is practically a word-for-word copy of a letter that has been making the rounds of Christian Web sites over the past few years. I did only a brief search and was able to trace it back to 2001 … always with author unknown. Since Mr. Whelan does not indicate he has copied the letter from another source then perhaps he is claiming to be the original author. As is common with letters like his, there is another, more factual, side of the story. Further research led me to sites such as A History of the Washington Monument (Table of Contents) from the National Parks Service and the Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Washington Monument). Please allow me to expand on Mr. Whelan’s “little history lesson.”

While the words “Laus Deo” are inscribed atop the Washington Monument, they are not the only words there (as is inferred by Whelan). There are also the names of the Joint Commission present at the setting of the capstone, the names of the Chief Engineer and Architect along with his assistants and the Master Mechanic, and also the dates the cornerstone and capstone were laid.

Mr. Whelan further misleads us with his claim that the “perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north, the Jefferson Memorial to the south, the Capitol to the east, and the Lincoln Memorial to the west” was the “original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant.” In truth, there is no “perfect cross.” One need only look at a map of Washington DC to see that the Washington Monument is actually offset about 100 yards to the east of the line connecting the White House and Jefferson Memorial! Also, L’Enfant’s design dates to 1791 .. .long before Abraham Lincoln was even born … so it’s rather doubtful that the Lincoln Memorial (built from 1914 to 1922) was on his mind. Even the Jefferson Memorial wasn’t designed until the 1930’s … more than a century after L’Enfant’s death. Besides, there is no evidence that L’Enfant intended any religious message in his design.

Mr. Whelan cites the religious memorial stones within the monument but fails to mention that there are almost 200 such stones donated as a tribute to George Washington. Many of these have no religious message at all. They come from organizations such as fire departments, Native American tribes, cities and counties. Some even come from other countries. The Chinese stone Whelan spoke of is actually a eulogy for George Washington. At one time, individuals were allowed to place memorial stones.

A former mayor of Washington, Peter Force, has such a stone.

The cornerstone does, indeed , contain a Bible. But Mr. Whelan fails to list tain any of the other dozens of items deposited along with it. For instance, there are copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, an 1840 United States Census, a copy of Drake’s Poems, a selection of United States coins. a Coast Survey Document, a copy of Morse’s North American Atlas, copies of various magazines, Harper’s Illustrated Catalogue, and a copy of Maury’s Wind and Current Charts of the North Atlantic. A rather eclectic collection to say the least.

Finally, Whelan’s version of “Washington’s prayer for America” is, sadly, another distortion of reality.

The words in question are actually the last paragraph of a letter written by Washington’s secretary (though Washington did sign it) and circulated to the thirteen state governors on the occasion of Washington’s retirement from command of the Continental Army. That final paragraph has been taken out of context and then changed in order to have text a more ‘religious flavor.’ Compare this, the original, with the altered version that Mr. Whelan presented: “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, and 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 pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion and without an humble imitation of whose 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.” When one considers that Washington was a Deist and not a Christian, it is easy to see the vagueness of the religious aspect of this letter compared to the corrupted version from Mr. Whelan. By the way, it is interesting to note that, in Washington’s era, to say “earnest prayer” did not necessarily mean a literal prayer in a religious sense. It also meant “earnest wish.”

“Now,” as Paul Harvey says, “you know the rest of the story.”

  • Brian Christensen

Waterboarding effective

Liberal ideologue and Bill Clinton towel-boy Gene Lyons shows once again why he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a word processor. He sneers at an AP poll showing popular support, in certain situations for “torture” of Muslim terrorists. But the heart of the debate is missing from his analysis. True torture, i.e., the gratuitous application of pain is already against the law. What will no longer be allowed under Sen. McCain’s feel-good “anti-torture” legislation is the kind of aggressive interrogation that has already saved countless lives and may very well have prevented another Sept. 11. The fact that Bush caved to this idiocy underscores why the President needs a line-item veto.

Lyons, McCain (himself a torture victim), et al, would have us believe that the terrorists and the feckless French and Germans will think we’re really nice folks, if we just treat the Islamo-fascists like wayward Boy Scouts. Unfortunately, McCain’s ill-advised and dangerous folly will only breed more contempt and embolden the terrorists to commit more atrocities.

The weep-easies on the left need to be reminded that these killers are not conscripted into service by a sovereign government. They have freely chosen to follow the edicts of a dark and primitive “religion” in the commission of the most savage acts imaginable. They blow up weddings and funerals, target women and children and saw the heads off their living, breathing victims. They lack the technological sophistication to build either a 757 or a World Trade Center. They can only hijack one and crash it into the other.

Liberals and squishy moderates like McCain need to ask themselves: What are we to do when we know the terrorists are about to commit mass murder and a Muslim prisoner can provide the intelligence to stop it. Do we threaten to take away his prayer mat or do we strap him to a water-board and save American lives. Water-boarding, by the way, inflicts no pain or injury and has proven 100 percent effective in breaking the subject’s will, usually in less than a minute. Intelligence gathering is a dirty, dangerous business and hand-wringing over harsh treatment of these criminals defies logic.

  • John Burns

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