By Vicki Huffman
Last September for our vacation, my husband and I drove from our home in Tennessee to Virginia to visit Washington, D.C. On the way we saw Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg, so we were steeping in the history of the founding of the United States even before we arrived at the capital.
While in D.C. we toured virtually all the public buildings and came away with a renewed sense of awe at how this nation has grown from its foundations (however, watching TV news each night gave us a renewed
sense of how far away it has gotten from them). My favorite building for its sense of history was the rotunda of the Capitol which contains niches with masterpiece 12×18 foot paintings, including one of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and several Revolutionary War scenes.
After visiting the city named for him, I came home with a much greater admiration for the “father of our country” George Washington. This year as America celebrates the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence, I’ve wondered if there might not have been an America except for Washington. Our freedom from England was not granted by fiat but was won with the blood of our citizens. Washington led a ragtag band of citizen soldiers against the regiments of England, the world’s super power of that day, and miraculously prevailed. It was also a miracle Washington had survived to fight those battles.
Before the revolution, George Washington wore a red coat, not a blue one. He had been a 23-year-old officer with the British army fighting the French and Indian War in the Colonies. In one battle the British were slaughtered as they marched shoulder to shoulder openly across the field with their field officers riding beside them. The chief of the Indians told his marksmen to aim specifically at officers on horses. They did and the toll was dreadful. Twice Washington had his horse shot out from under him. But he
grabbed another rider-less horse and kept fighting. At the end of the battle, 1500 British lay dead but only 30 Indians.
The Indian chief later told the story of how his men shot repeatedly at Washington but could not hit him. Finally, the chief told his men to stop shooting at that man because it was clear “the Great Spirit”
When Washington got home and took off his army coat, he found four bullet holes in it, but there were no wounds—or even scratches—on him. Washington knew who to thank for such a remarkable deliverance. He wrote, “I was but the humble agent of a favoring heaven, whose benign influence was so often manifested in our behalf, and to whom the praise of victory is due.”
Washington often referred to God as “Providence” but was not a deist, as revisionist historians often try to paint the founding fathers. He was a Christian and made that clear in both his personal writings and one of his earliest general orders, dated a few days after the signing of the Declaration, July 9, 1776: “General Washington hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live, and act, as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country. To the distinguished character of Patriot it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
An excerpt from Washington’s prayer journal tells us what was more important to him than life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness: “But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.”