I immediately recognized the quotes engraved on the walls of the Library of Congress — one from the Old Testament, the other one referring to Christ in the New Testament. These verses are well known to me. I stood in the Reading Room, astounded by the beauty and majesty of the architecture, while my heart raced with the thought that my book would one day be placed on the shelves of the largest library in the world.
We had been walking all day through the National Mall, and I was amazed at how many references to God I found in buildings and monuments. I found them in the Supreme Court, where a marble relief of Moses holding tablets containing the Ten Commandments can be found outside the East Pediment. I found them in paintings in the Capitol Building and behind the Speaker’s rostrum in the House Chamber, where one reads “In God We Trust,” our nation’s motto.
I found them again in the National Archives and in each president’s monument: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” is engraved in the Washington Monument. This sobering quote is in the Jefferson Memorial, from his notes to the state of Virginia: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
I have never seen such sights during my trips to different capitals around the world. Regardless of whether one walks the streets of Rome, Paris or Brasilia, you will find monuments recording victories in battle and the people conquered by their mighty armies. A country’s monuments and national symbols reflect what their founding leaders believed to be the source of their nation’s power and achievements, and nations have always erected memorials to honor their gods, whether they were military heroes or deities. In this respect, America stands out, at least among the nations I’ve visited, as the only place where monuments and symbols contain the declaration that the source of our greatness is the God of the bible.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a famous 19th-century French statesman, historian and social philosopher who traveled to America in the 1830s. He published his observations about the reason for the greatness of America in his two-volume work, “Democracy in America.” One of his famous quotes has been repeated by statesman and clergyman alike throughout the decades: “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law, as well as the surest pledge of freedom.”
As a foreigner myself, I echo Tocqueville’s conclusions. We may not be the nation that lives by that truth anymore. We may have decided to change our belief system as a society, but I am personally convinced, as I read the history and admire the singularity of this country, that America’s ingenuity and greatness are a reflection of its initial dependence and trust in God. And as an immigrant who loves these United States as my own, my prayer in this election year is that we who believe in the same principles, will do our part to help her remain uniquely great, protected and blessed among the nations.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is available on Kindle, at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers. Visit her website at www.soaringwithhim.com