Category archives: History

The Washington Monument: A Tribute to Leadership and Religious Heritage

by Laura Grossberndt , Hayden Sledge

September 21, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Titanic Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

The Washington Monument serves as a memorial to the life of George Washington, particularly his leadership as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and as the first president of the United States. It also stands as a reminder of America’s rich religious heritage.

Washington was so pivotal to America’s founding that he has been called the “father of his country.” He was a member of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and then was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in 1775. As a general, he is especially remembered for his stalwart leadership during the winter encampment at Valley Forge in 1777-78. After leading America to victory and independence on the battlefield, Washington presided over the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution. In 1789, he was unanimously elected the nation’s first president.

President Washington and his administration laid a strong foundation for the United States of America. Some notable events during Washington’s presidency include the celebration of the first federally-recognized Thanksgiving, the putting down of the Whiskey Rebellion, the induction of new states (North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee), and the approval of the Bill of Rights. Washington also oversaw the signing of the Jay Treaty (normalizing trade relations with Great Britain), Pinckney’s Treaty (friendship with Spain), and the Treaty of Tripoli (access to Mediterranean shipping routes). Washington also set the presidential precedent of selecting a cabinet of advisors and stepping down after two terms.

Even before Washington became president, members of Congress wanted to create a statue of him to honor his wartime accomplishments. However, because the young country was lacking in funds, the project was scrapped.

Pierre L’Enfant, the designer of the federal capital (which was officially named after the first president in 1791), envisioned a monument honoring President Washington and even designated a special spot for an equestrian statue of Washington in his initial layout of the city.

The Washington National Monument Society, a private organization started by President James Madison and Chief Justice John Marshall, raised funds for the monument’s construction. First Lady Dolley Madison and Elizabeth Hamilton, widow of Alexander Hamilton, were also instrumental in raising funds. In 1833, the Society facilitated a contest to design the monument. The contest’s winner, Robert Mills, also designed the U.S. Treasury Building and the U.S. Patent Office. The latter building now holds the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

On July 4, 1848, a cornerstone-laying ceremony was held. President James K. Polk and future presidents James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson were in attendance. Embedded in the cornerstone is a box of artifacts, including a portrait of Washington.

By 1854, Mills had built 156 feet of the monument. His design was incredibly daunting, and he encountered many obstacles during its construction. For example, when Pope Pius IX donated a stone from the Roman Temple of Concord, the gift sparked an outcry from the “Know Nothing” Party that opposed Catholicism and Catholic immigrants.

Unfortunately, Mills died in 1855 before the monument could be completed. The unfinished monument stood untouched for two decades.

In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant approved funding to finish the monument, and work resumed in 1879. When Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army of Engineers could not find the original rock quarry, they were forced to use different stone. As a result, three different shades of stone from three different quarries were used in the monument’s construction.

In 1885, 36 years after the cornerstone had been laid, the monument was finished. On February 21, 1885, the day before Washington’s birthday, the monument was dedicated. At the time, the 555-foot-tall Egyptian-style obelisk was the tallest building in the world.

The Washington Monument has been the location of a few notable events. In 1982, veteran and anti-nuclear weapons activist Norman Mayer drove to the bottom of the monument and threatened that he would blow it up with 1,000 pounds of dynamite. Thousands of people were evacuated, but some were held hostage with Mayer. After ten hours, he let the hostages leave and was shot and killed by U.S. Park Police. Authorities later carefully inspected Mayer’s van and did not find the explosives he had claimed to have.

On August 23, 2011, the monument endured a severe earthquake. Although people were inside the monument at the time, no one was injured. It cost $15 million to repair the damage incurred by the earthquake.

It is worth noting that the Washington Monument represents more than the nation’s first president. The monument itself honors and reflects the Judeo-Christian values America was founded upon.

Many people and institutions contributed stones for the Washington Monument. Many of these stones are inscribed with names and short messages. One such stone donated by Sabbath School Children of the Methodist E. Church in Philadelphia is engraved with John 5:39 (“Search the Scriptures”), 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.”) An image of the stone can be found here.

Other stones are engraved with phrases including “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7), “Holiness to the Lord,” “In God We Trust,” “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” (“He who transplanted sustains”), and “May Heaven to this Union continue its beneficence.” At the top of the monument is an aluminum cap engraved with the Latin phrase “Laus Deo” (“Praise be to God”). A list of memorial stones and their inscriptions can be found here. A gallery of photos of some of the stones can be found here.

In 2007, a controversy arose involving the monument’s cap. While the monument was being renovated, a replica cap in the monument’s museum was removed and later put back in such a way that the “Laus Deo” inscription was not visible. Also, the accompanying plaque omitted the meaning of “Laus Deo.” After public outcry, the National Park Service later apologized and included the meaning of “Laus Deo” on the new plaque.

The Washington Monument isn’t just a soaring memorial to “the father of his country.” The verses and religious phrases inscribed on its stones serve as reminders of the Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom that played an important role in America’s founding.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial: A Monument to Freedom

by Sarah Rumpf

September 15, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Titanic Memorial.

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. honors the life and work of Thomas Jefferson—the author of the Declaration of Independence, the first secretary of state, the second vice president, and the third president of the United States. An influential figure in America’s early development, Jefferson was a lifelong advocate for limited government, religious freedom, and public education. Although Jefferson tragically failed to uphold the right of personal liberty of his fellow humans—namely, slaves—throughout his life, Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom continues to benefit people of all faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities today.

Congress created the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission in 1934, nine years before the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth in 1743. The site of the memorial had been originally intended for Theodore Roosevelt; however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt deeply admired Jefferson and used his influence to secure the site for the Founding Father. In 1935, the commission selected John Russell Pope, one of the nation’s most famous architects committed to the classical tradition, as the architect for the memorial.

Pope’s original design called for a huge building and the transformation of the Tidal Basin into a series of reflecting pools, rectangular terraces, and formal rows of trees. This design was controversial; many people expressed concern about the possible destruction of the Tidal Basin’s famous cherry trees. These trees had been a gift from the government of Japan in 1912 and were beloved by Washington, D.C.’s residents.

After Pope’s death in 1937, his colleagues Otto R. Eggers and David P. Higgins took over the project. President Roosevelt approved their more modest design, and Congress approved the first part of the $3 million construction cost in 1938. Work began that year and continued throughout World War II. On April 13, 1943, the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth, President Roosevelt dedicated the completed memorial. To the 5,000 spectators and a radio audience of millions, Roosevelt proclaimed, “Today in the midst of a great war for freedom, we dedicate a shrine to freedom.”

Upon entering the Jefferson Memorial, the visitor will notice at its center the Jefferson statue, standing 19 feet tall atop a black Minnesota granite pedestal inscribed with the dates of Jefferson’s birth and death (1743-1826). The statue is surrounded by columns, quotes from Jefferson, and a coffered ceiling above. Interestingly, when the memorial construction was completed in 1943, there was a shortage of bronze due to World War II. A plaster statue was temporarily erected, to be replaced by a bronze statue in 1947. The statue depicts Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence in his left hand. The interior of the Jefferson Memorial is comprised of white Georgia marble, the floor of pink Tennessee marble, and the massive dome of Indiana limestone. The dome’s interior is divided into two parts: the lower section has a coffered surface, and the upper section has a smooth, uninterrupted surface.

The architects of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial chose the materials not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for what they each symbolized. The exterior stonework is from Vermont, while the interior walls are from Georgia; this symbolized the geographic extremes of the original 13 colonies—from New England to the Deep South. Inside, the flooring and inner dome material are from Tennessee and Indiana; this symbolizes the expanding Union. The bronze statue of Jefferson stands atop a massive block of Minnesota granite with a gray Missouri marble ring surrounding its base; this symbolizes the impact President Jefferson had with the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency in 1803.

Thomas Jefferson has been closely associated with religious freedom for more than two centuries. The Jefferson Memorial was built to commemorate an esteemed advocate for personal spiritual freedom who believed that religion was a matter of conscience so long as it is not “injurious to others” and that the state should guarantee religious freedom for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.” Jefferson firmly believed that broad religious freedom and toleration were essential in a nation that was comprised of people from diverse backgrounds.

Today, Christians benefit from Jefferson’s convictions on personal religious freedom. Although Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian himself and is generally understood to have been a deist (i.e., accepting God’s existence but denying supernatural revelation and the deity and miracles of Jesus), Jefferson’s advocacy for religious freedom has helped ease the spread of the gospel. American Christians have an obligation to use the earthly freedom we have to preach spiritual freedom through the gospel. Galatians 5:13 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Let us continue to practice the religious liberty that Thomas Jefferson fought to preserve.

Sarah Rumpf is a Development intern at Family Research Council.

The Titanic Memorial: A Tribute to Sacrifice and Celebration of Life

by Molly Carman

August 26, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence MemorialJapanese American Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage. The sinking of the so-called “unsinkable ship” and massive loss of life (over 1,500 of the 2,224 passengers) garnered international attention and led to major changes in maritime safety regulations.

Following the sinking of the Titanic, a movement arose to commemorate those who perished in the tragedy, specifically the men who had abided by the ship’s policy of admitting women and children into the lifeboats first. Approximately 75 percent of the men aboard the Titanic died in the icy waters of the Atlantic when the ship sank.

Within a month of the ship’s sinking, planning and fundraising to build a monument in memory of these men were already underway. Helen Herron Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft, gave the first recorded donation to the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association, which was chaired by Clara Hay, the widow of Secretary of State John Hay. Titanic survivors and family members were prominent contributors. Two such donors were the widow of the late Pennsylvania railroad magnate John Thayer and Mrs. Archibald Forbes, who donated the money she had won playing bridge against the late John Jacob Astor the night the ship sank. Both Mr. Thayer and Mr. Astor died onboard. In the end, over $40,000 was raised toward the memorial.

The Women’s Titanic Memorial Association sponsored and organized a design competition for the memorial exclusively among female artists. The original design for the monument was an arch, but the committee preferred a statue designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and chose it instead. While Whitney was the designer, she did not sculpt the memorial. Rather, the monument’s base was sculpted and engraved by Henry Bacon, the same architect who designed and built the Lincoln Memorial. The statue on top of the base was carved from a single piece of red granite by John Horrigan in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Located at the northern tip of Fort McNair in Washington D.C., the memorial is a 15-foot statue of a young man with his arms stretched wide in a posture of hospitality, sacrifice, and surrender toward heaven. His head is tilted upward, his eyes are closed, and a peaceful expression rests across his face. A crown of laurels rests on the young man’s head, a symbol of honor, like the wreaths given to champions in ancient Rome. Finally, a drape covers most of the statue’s left side, maintaining his innocence and demonstrating his humility.

On the granite base of the memorial is the inscription:

To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic

April 15, 1912

They gave their lives that women and children might be saved

Erected by the women of America

 

On the back of the base, it reads:

To the young and the old

The rich and the poor

The ignorant and the learned

All

Who gave their lives nobly

To save women and children

 

It took 17 years to build the memorial, due to a lack of funds, but on May 26, 1931, it was finally dedicated in a coveted spot along the Potomac. It was unveiled by Helen Herron Taft, the now-widow of William Howard Taft, who had been president at the time of the Titanic’s sinking. Unfortunately, the memorial was taken down in 1966 and put into storage. Its former site is now home to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. However, the memorial reemerged from storage in 1968 and now resides at the northern tip of Fort McNair.

We can learn three truths from the Titanic Memorial and the men it honors. First, the statue is in a posture of peace. As Christians, we must remember Jesus’ invitation and promise to give rest to all who come to Him (Matthew 11:28). Despite the dark nights we may face, true rest from our fears can be found in Christ.

Second, the statue is in a posture of surrender. Christians must remember to surrender to God daily and trust His will for our lives. Consider the refrain of Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before he suffered for our sakes, “Yet not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). We must surrender our lives to God so that we might truly live for Him.

Third, the statue represents sacrifice. Christians must remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross. John 15:13 reminds us that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Just as men onboard the Titanic sacrificed their lives so others might live, so Christ laid down His life for the world, so that all might live.

New Blog Series: The Monuments of Washington, D.C.

by Family Research Council

August 24, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved through monuments and memorials that visually represent the extraordinary history of our nation.

To tell these stories and remind ourselves of the importance of these memorials, Family Research Council has a new blog series highlighting the most recognizable and popular monuments in our nation’s capital. This series devotes particular attention to the historical and spiritual themes depicted in each monument, sharing some not so well-known facts about their history, design, and symbolic meaning that shed light on our nation’s deep religious heritage.

This series aims to inspire the next generation to see the importance of these monuments and to remind us of the virtues and lessons that they memorialize.

The Martin Luther King Memorial: A Monument to Justice and Peace

by Samantha Stahl

August 20, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial, and the Japanese American Memorial.

Overlooking the Tidal Basin and facing the Jefferson Memorial is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The King Memorial commemorates the foremost leader of the civil rights movement and stands as a tribute to the ideals he dedicated his life to advancing.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist preacher, orator, and activist. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, organized nonviolent protests throughout the American south, and served as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Additionally, King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, during which he delivered his well-known “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 in recognition of his nonviolent protests and work toward racial equality. Tragically, King was assassinated in 1968.

Today, the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. are enshrined forever in a stunning granite memorial on the National Mall. Every aspect of the memorial is symbolic, including its physical address, 1964 Independence Avenue, which symbolizes the year the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Visitors pass through a narrow valley hewn into the “Mountain of Despair” and out into open freedom, where the missing part of the mountain, the “Stone of Hope,” stands. In this Stone of Hope, King’s likeness is engraved. This walk (through the Mountain of Despair and out to the Stone of Hope) represents the victory of the Civil Rights Movement, born out of disappointment and grief. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” from King’s August 28, 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech is engraved in the monument.

A 450-foot long inscription wall that spans the width of the monument’s plaza contains 14 excerpts from King’s sermons and speeches, which serve as a reminder of the values King stood for: peace, democracy, justice, and love. Quotes include:

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 1963
  • Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” District of Columbia, 1959
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 1963
  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” 1958

The process of establishing a national memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr began in the mid-1980s, when Boston University’s oldest African American intercollegiate fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha (the fraternity King was a member in the1950s), presented the idea. In 1996, Congress passed a resolution authorizing Alpha Phi Alpha to establish a memorial to King in Washington, D.C., and in 1998, President Clinton signed the resolution. In 1999, the National Memorial Project Foundation held a design competition, which attracted 900 submissions from 52 countries. In 2006, Lei Yixin was selected to sculpt the statue of King. Yixin completed 80 percent of King’s statue at his studio in Changsha, China, before traveling to D.C. to finish the rest. The completed memorial opened to the public on October 16, 2011, following a dedication ceremony attended by President Obama.

King’s legacy was to choose love over hate, a conviction he rooted in Scripture. Specifically, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) inspired King to respond to inequality with nonviolence and love. His Christian faith motivated him to make use of the suffering he endured during the struggle for civil rights. King looked forward to the day when those in office would “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with [their] God” (Micah 6:8).

King firmly believed his work was God’s will, as he stated in his final speech on April 3, 1968. In this emotional speech the night before he was assassinated, King preached, “I just want to do God’s will. And He has allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I have looked over and I have seen the Promised Land.” King knew he might not see the “Promised Land” (i.e., an America free of racial tension), but he had hope that “we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” He concluded his final speech by quoting the Battle Hymn of the Republic, noting, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

King’s legacy of peace, democracy, justice, and love should serve as a model for us today. At a time of heightened racial tensions, King would likely renounce violence and encourage Americans to remember that we are all God’s children.

Samantha Stahl is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

The Japanese American Memorial: A Monument to Reconciliation

by Hayden Sledge

August 18, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.

Many visitors to our nation’s capital are unfamiliar with the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, a monument recognizing the oppression that hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans experienced during World War II.

Around 120,000 Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 that permitted the secretary of war to remove any resident aliens from parts of the western United States identified as military areas. This executive order disproportionately affected Japanese Americans, mainly because the United States was deeply distressed after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

We now know as a nation that the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II was anything but decent. Former President Ford acknowledged the United States’ wrongdoing in 1976. Then in 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and said, “Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” Later, in 1992, President Bush signed a law to start the building of the memorial. The Japanese American Memorial symbolizes the United States’ desire and commitment to never again commit such an act of injustice.

In 1988, after the country realized it had wronged the Japanese American people, internees were granted $20,000. This reparation could never bring complete healing to all those hurt by the executive order, but it was nevertheless an intentional action the government took to show remorse in addition to simply apologizing.

Many of the internees selflessly donated their reparations to the building of a memorial in 1999. On November 9, 2000, Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon and United States Attorney General Janet Reno spoke at the dedication of the Japanese American Memorial.

The memorial is comprised of a wall and a sculpture of two cranes. Davis Buckley and Nina Akamu designed the memorial. Nina Akamu, a third-generation Japanese American, dutifully sculpted the two cranes. Since Akamu’s grandfather had been in one of the internment camps, crafting the sculpture was especially personal for her. Akamu’s grandfather was of Japanese heritage and had been arrested in Hawaii. He later died of a heart attack while in the internment camp due to his diabetes.

With her grandfather’s story in mind, Akamu designed the two red-crowned cranes to be entangled in barbed wire. The cranes’ ability to persevere amidst the wires represents their commitment to patriotism. They remained loyal to the United States, even though they were experiencing unnecessary hardship. The cranes symbolize the body and spirit of these Japanese Americans. The cranes are also pressed up against each other, representing Japanese Americans’ need for each other during such a difficult time. The birds’ wings are sculpted to look like a torch symbolizing freedom, as well as the 442nd freedom torch, which symbolized the 442nd regiment, a regiment comprised of Japanese Americans.

The memorial “Honor Wall” honors more than 800 soldiers that died fighting for the United States. Norman Y. Mineta’s and Akemi Dawn Matsumoto Ehrlich’s poem “The Legacy” are both featured. The 10 concentration camps and the number of internees at each camp are listed on the wall.

The memorial wall also honors Mike M. Masaoka, a civil rights activist and a staff sergeant of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Robert T. Matsui, an internee at Tule Lake, and Daniel K. Inouye, a U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, and captain of the 442nd Regional Combat Team, are also remembered on the wall. Finally, U.S. presidents Reagan and Truman are quoted.

This memorial showcases the diligence of the Japanese Americans and honors their sacrifice, but this memorial is also a reminder of humanity’s inherent brokenness. It is a reminder that our sin never just affects us, but those around us as well. When we recognize sin, we are called to turn from our wicked ways. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

By God’s grace, He calls us to become more like Him by fleeing from evil, and He, in turn, blesses us. Matthew 3:8 says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” When we turn from evil, God calls us to seek justice and glorify Him with our lives. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” By God’s grace, we can learn from our mistakes and chart a course that is more honoring to Him.

With Scripture in mind and an understanding of the memorial’s history, we can live with a commitment to seek healing and restoration. The Japanese American Memorial serves both as a reminder of our country’s past sins against the Japanese American people and a symbol of progress, revealing just how far the United States has come as a nation.

Hayden Sledge is a Coalitions intern at Family Research Council.

The 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial: Life, Liberty, and Legacy

by Molly Carman

August 14, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Joan of Arc Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

The memorial to the 56 signers of our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, is often overlooked or unfamiliar to most visitors to Washington, D.C. The memorial is located on a small island, in a part of the National Mall called Constitution Gardens, which is north of the reflecting pool between the World War II and Lincoln memorials.

In April 1978, Congress passed an act “To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to memorialize the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence in Constitution Gardens in the District of Columbia.” The completed memorial was dedicated on July 2, 1984, 208 years after the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence.

The first stone of the footbridge to the island reads, “A Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence; A gift from the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration 1976.” The final stone of the bridge reads, “In Congress, July 4th, 1776, The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.” The first step into the memorial is engraved with the final lines of the Declaration, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Designed and sculpted by landscape artist Joseph Brown, the memorial is comprised of a semi-circle of angled blocks of granite. Brown engraved onto these blocks each signer’s signature, enhancing them with gold leaf. Below the signatures, he printed each man’s name, profession, and hometown. The stones are grouped together by state, with Pennsylvania’s nine signers flanking the memorial’s entrance. The 13 state names are written at the base of the stones.

The 56 signers held a variety of professions. There were 19 lawyers, as well as 23 farmers, planters, or merchants of some kind. Four were doctors, three were judges, and two were politicians. The last five were a writer, a surveyor, an ironmaster, a statesman, and a clergyman.

Interestingly, one of the signers, a lawyer from New Jersey named Richard Stockton, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support. On November 30, 1776, he was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of harsh treatment and meager rations, Stockton repudiated his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III. When he regained his freedom, he took a new oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey in December 1777, and again supported the Revolution until victory was achieved in September of 1783. Despite once repudiating his signature and recanting his support for the Revolution, Stockton is nonetheless included in the memorial.

While the signers of the Declaration of Independence held several different types of political positions, only John Witherspoon from New Jersey has “clergyman” identified as his occupation. However, Layman Hall from Georgia was also a clergyman who had graduated from Yale Divinity School; he changed careers and became a physician out of Yale Medical School in 1756. Because being a physician was his second and primary occupation, this is what is engraved on the memorial.

Originally from Scotland, Witherspoon attended the University of Edinburgh, where he received a Master of Arts, followed by four years of divinity school. Afterward, he became an ordained minister, all by age 20. Because of his contribution to the church and his educational background, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from the University of St. Andrews.

At that time in history, the most educated men where the clergy. The College of New Jersey (modern-day Princeton) needed additional scholars to join their assembly. Witherspoon made the treacherous journey to the American Colonies in 1768.

Initially abstaining from political involvement, Witherspoon focused on his success in the college and his church. However, with time he came to support the revolutionary cause, accepting appointments to the committees of correspondence and safety in early 1776. That same year, during his commencement speech at Princeton, Witherspoon demonstrated a change of heart, saying, “I beseech you to make wise improvement of the present threatening aspect of public affairs, and to remember that your duty to God, to your country, and to your families, and to yourselves, is the same.”

Later that same year, Witherspoon was elected to the Continental Congress just in time to vote in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s Resolution for independence and sign the Declaration of Independence. In Witherspoon’s later years, he suffered an injury that caused him to lose one of his eyes, and with time he lost the sight of the other, rendering him completely blind. He later died on his farm near Princeton at the age of 71.

Like Witherspoon, Christians should not be afraid to be engaged politically. Witherspoon was often characterized as one devoted to advancing the “cause of Christian liberty by forming the minds of youth.” Family Research Council chartered a program in 1997 called the Witherspoon Fellowship. Though not under the same name, the internship program continues today, challenging, mentoring, and developing students academically, practically, and spiritually.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs intern whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

The Korean War Memorial: A Tribute to Sacrifice

by Samantha Stahl

August 11, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Joan of Arc Memorial.

The Korean War was a three-year struggle (1950-1953). North Korea, with the support of Communist China, crossed over the 38th parallel, the boundary line between the North and South, quickly overrunning South Korea. The U.S. and the United Nations came to the aid of South Korea and defended them from the onslaught of communism.

The Korean War was one of the hardest fought conflicts in America’s history. Of the 5.8 million Americans who served, 36,574 died, 8,200 were missing in action or buried at sea, and 103,284 were wounded.

The idea of a memorial for those who fought in Korea was supported as early as 1955 when G. Holcomb wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post: “Men of all races and creeds died for freedom there. Should there not be a monument showing the heterogeneous qualities of those united forces? Would not that serve to remind us and others that even the ‘little wars’ against free people (or even against unfree people) are important today?”

In 1986, Congress approved building a memorial to the Korean War, and President Ronald Reagan appointed an advisory board of 12 veterans to oversee its construction. A design was chosen from over 500 submissions, and on Flag Day 1992, President George H.W. Bush hosted a ground-breaking ceremony. When the memorial’s cost swelled to almost three times the original estimation, the design was revised—the number of statues was halved, from 38 to 19—and the building process took over half a decade to complete.

President Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young-sam dedicated the Korean War Memorial on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice. “The Korean War Memorial represents a sense of duty and simple patriotism found among common soldiers,” President Clinton said in his address to the veterans and their families. By fighting to preserve South Korean freedom from Northern oppression, the soldiers had won an important victory, even though the war never had a victor in the traditional sense.

The Korean War Memorial has four parts: the statues, the Mural Wall, the Pool of Remembrance, and the United Nations Wall. First, there are 19 seven-foot-tall stainless steel statues lined up in an entourage. The statues represent soldiers from different branches of the armed forces (14 Army, three Marines, one Navy, and one Air Force). All are carrying a weapon except the Army medic and Navy Corpsman. The soldiers are wearing ponchos billowing in the frigid Korean winds, walking over obstacles, rough terrain, and among the rice paddies of Korea, represented by juniper bushes and black granite strips. At the head of the group, where the American Flag waves, is the Dedication Stone with the inscription: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

Second, adjacent to the statues, is the Mural Wall. There are 41 panels in the 164-foot-long wall, containing 2,400 pictures of the Korean War from the National Archives. Members of each branch of the military are represented. The 19 soldier statues are reflected by the granite of the Mural Wall so that there appear to be 38 soldiers, symbolic of the 38 months of the duration of the war and the 38th parallel.

Third, located ahead of the statues, is the Pool of Remembrance. The Pool encloses the wall, which reads: “Freedom Is Not Free,” and lists the cost of soldiers’ lives at the bottom, including those killed in action, wounded in action, missing in action, and prisoners of war. Soldiers who died during the war can be searched by name in the Honor Roll, an electronic kiosk located at the west entrance of the memorial.

Finally, the United Nations Wall is engraved with the names of the 22 nations who fought with South Korea in the war.

The United States and South Korea were united by similar ideals: “During the Korean War, South Koreans and Americans fought side by side to defend the values embodied in the established rules-based international order, which was then in its infancy,” Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson said during a recent ceremony repatriating South Korean soldier remains. The relationship between the U.S. and South Korea is a special bond forged from mutual trust, shared values, and a powerful friendship, which came from the unforgettable, courageous sacrifice of American, South Korean, and many other United Nations soldiers.

The Korean War is often called the “forgotten war,” due to its unpopularity and the fact that it occurred between the Second World War and the Vietnam War. Additionally, the Korean War tends to be forgotten because it had no decisive end, but a rather unsatisfying armistice that did not seem to favor either side. We must not forget the Korean War, however. It was a crucial fight to end the spread of communism into South Korea by the North and Communist China.

Those who served and died protecting South Korean freedom mirror Christ’s sacrifice for the freedom of all mankind: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16). The Korean War Memorial pays tribute to the brave men and women who fought in Korea, but it also stands as a special reminder for Christians to protect the freedom and seek the good of our neighbors, especially those who cannot fight for themselves.

The next time you visit the Korean War Memorial and take in the symbolic beauty of the place, remember the thousands of brave soldiers who gave their all so that others could be free.

Samantha Stahl is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

The Joan of Arc Memorial: A Tribute to Courage and Faith

by Molly Carman

August 7, 2020

The history of the United States is preserved in archives, books, and the collective memory of the American people. It is also preserved in monuments, memorials, and statues made from marble, granite, bronze, or plaster.

Our nation’s capital is home to some of the world’s most recognizable and frequently visited monuments. This blog series will explore the events and people they commemorate, devoting particular attention to the spiritual themes depicted. By shedding light on our nation’s deep religious heritage, this series aims to inspire the next generation to emulate virtues and merits from America’s past that are worth memorializing.

FRC’s blog series on monuments is written by FRC summer interns and edited by David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. Be sure to read our previous posts on the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

In a city filled with monuments to America’s presidents, generals, soldiers, and statesmen, a statue to a French teenager might seem out of place. But the Joan of Arc Memorial in Washington, D.C. pays tribute to a fascinating story of courage and faith that Americans have long admired.

Joan of Arc was born in Arc, France in 1412. When she was 13, she believed she heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret telling her to fight for France during the Hundred Years War. Joan answered the call, helping the French drive the English from Orleans in 1429. During the battle, she was captured by the Burgundians and tried in a French ecclesiastical court that had pro-English sympathies. After a sham trial, she was convicted of heresy and deemed a witch by the counsel. In 1431, she was burned at the stake—when she was only 19 years old.

The first memorial to Joan of Arc was erected in Orleans, France in 1456. Today, there are 22 memorials and statues of Joan of Arc worldwide; five are in the United States. Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C. is home to one of the five. The D.C. memorial was erected in 1889, and is an exact replica of the “Jeanne d’Arc” statue that stands outside the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims in France. Sculptor Paul Dubois (1829-1905) designed both statues.

D.C.’s Joan of Arc statue stands a little over four feet tall and 11 feet wide. Joan is mounted on her horse in full armor. While there are other memorials to women in our nation’s capital, the Joan of Arc Memorial is the only equestrian statue of a woman and the only statue that depicts a woman going into battle.

Joan’s right hand is raised and holding her drawn sword; her left hand holds the reins of her horse. The visor of her helmet is open, and her eyes gaze heavenward. The sword is five feet long and weighs 30 pounds. Vandals have stolen the sword on multiple occasions, most recently in September 2016. The sword was replaced, and the memorial was rededicated in March 2018.

The bronze statue rests on a three-tiered granite pedestal engraved with the words “Aux Femmes d’Amérique Les Femmes de France,” which means, “To the Women of America, The Women of France.” The statue was gifted to the United States by a group of women known as the Society of French Women of New York—Le Lyceum Societie des Femmes de France—and was dedicated to the women of the United States. President and Mrs. Harding and Ambassador Jules Jusserand of France attended the memorial’s dedication on January 6, 1922.

Carlo Polifeme, the president of the Society of French Women of New York, officially dedicated the memorial, and Mrs. George Maynard Minor, president of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), unveiled the statue on behalf of the women of the United States. Ambassador Jusserand presented a medal from France to Polifeme for her work towards getting the statue erected in Washington, D.C.

Memorials commemorating the life of Joan of Arc, including the one in D.C., represent the legacy of a young woman’s devout faith, obedience, and courage. Although she was young, she was bold. Christians can learn three lessons while reflecting on the life of Joan of Arc and her memorial in Meridian Hill Park.

First, we can be encouraged that our abilities, age, or experience are not what qualifies us for the work God intends for us to do. This is the encouragement Paul gave to his protégé Timothy when he said, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Joan did not shrink back from the dangers of war, rather she led the French army to battle, even though she knew it could cost her life. Likewise, Christians should not shrink back from the callings God has on our lives, even if we “feel” unqualified.

Second, the Joan of Arc statue depicts her with her helmet’s visor open and her eyes looking toward heaven. Christians are called to keep “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Christians are called to have our focus on Christ and not the fears that threaten to overwhelm us. Just as Joan is portrayed looking up to heaven, we, too, must look up as we prepare to contend for the faith.

Finally, the monument depicts Joan’s horse in a full charge into battle. Even though she may have been afraid, Joan did not back down when the battle raged. By depicting Joan with her sword drawn, the memorial communicates her courage. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul speaks of putting on the full armor of God. Christians must always be prepared for the battles of life, but, like Joan, we must keep our focus on the Lord, who will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of July 26)

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Black Lives Matter Makes Its Marx”

How many Christians plaster “Black Lives Matter” across their social media pages not realizing that they’re supporting a group with radical beliefs? Americans are terrified that if they don’t embrace Black Lives Matter, they’ll be labeled as bigots and racists. The extremists are counting on that fear.

2. Washington Update: “Barr Brawl in the House”

House Democrats have been itching to get Attorney General William Barr on the stand for more than a year. But when that wish came true, the Left blew it as they raged, interrupted, and mocked their way through five hours of the hearing.

3. Blog: “Hope in Nebraska: Nebraska Pushes Towards Banning Dismemberment Abortions”

Recently, Nebraska’s state senators successfully brought a bill prohibiting dismemberment abortions to the legislature for debate and a vote. The author of the bill, State Senator Suzanne Geist, believes most Nebraskans will agree with the bill once they learn the horrors of dismemberment abortions.

4. Blog: “Lessons in Perseverance from the Life of William Wilberforce”

The abolition of slavery. Women’s suffrage. Civil rights for black Americans. These reforms came about through years of dedicated efforts from people who refused to quit. As we fight to protect life, family, and religious freedom, we can look to the life of William Wilberforce as inspiration, a man dedicated to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

5. Washington Watch: Dr. Teryn Clarke worries that a political agenda is covering up the truth about the coronavirus

Dr. Teryn Clarke, one of the doctors who participated in Monday’s Tea Party Patriots news conference, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Facebook, Google/YouTube, and Twitter censorship of the viral video.

6. Washington Watch: Sec. Chad Wolf insists that peaceful protestors don’t commit violent crimes

Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the federal response to the riots in Portland and other cities, and on protestors showing up outside his home.

7. Washington Watch: Andy McCarthy insists the ACLU’s case against federal troops in Portland is as flimsy as it gets

Andy McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, joined Sarah Perry to discuss a federal judge issuing a restraining order against federal agents tasked with protecting a federal courthouse in Portland from violent rioters.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.com, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

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