Laus Deo

On the aluminum cap atop the Washington Monument in Washington, DC are two words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words. In fact … most visitors to the monument have no idea they are even there and … for that matter … probably could care less!

But there they are … 555 feet, 5.125 inches high … perched atop the monument to the father of the nation. Overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America. Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed 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 world.

And what might those two words … comprised of just four syllables and only seven letters … mean? Very simply … “Praise be to God!” 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 inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty-five years to finally cap the memorial with the tribute Laus Deo!

“Praise be to God!”

From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure … a visitor can take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. And from that vantage point one can also easily see (whether plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l’Enfant , or Divine Intervention ) a 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.

A cross … you say? How interesting! And … no doubt … intended to carry a meaning for those who bother to notice. “Praise be to God!”

Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6. “Praise be to God!”

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of unique democracy …