PRINCE/Laus Deo (Praise be to God)
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:00 PM
On the steep descent into Washington's Reagan National, out the window to my left, with my duct-taped iPhone, I captured the Lincoln Memorial, then the Jefferson Memorial, the wing.
Suddenly, the engines roared, the nose lifted up and our aluminum tube banked sharply to the right.
A missed approach, or so the pilot came on the intercom to say, as we circled northern Virginia for a second approach.
More accurately, it was a near miss. Another jet was clearly visible on the runway.
On the second approach over the Potomac, my shot of the Lincoln Memorial was better and I promptly posted it on social media.
Ole Miss Daily Mississippian Editor Adam Ganucheau saw it and Tweeted a picture of the Washington Monument. "I just took this from the sky," he wrote to me. Turns out, Adam was at Reagan headed to New York in a hour.
One of his staffers, Jonece Dunigan, a Canton High School graduate, was joining us for the National Newspaper Association's annual Governmental Affairs meeting.
Although I've been to D.C. a thousand times, I'm always in awe. Washington is a beautiful city, especially at night, especially under a blanket of snow.
Ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, medieval Europe and 19th century France have all influenced the architecture.
Washington simply never fails to impress no matter who is in power. The architecture, the history, the words etched in stone on the monuments such as in Jefferson's "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Reading the words of the Gettysburg Address inscribed on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial, tears welled up, "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Looking out across the National Mall toward the Washington Monument and the Capitol beyond, I wondered what Martin Luther King thought when he said, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Dr. King finished that speech at The Willard, where our Mississippi Press Association contingent stayed just two blocks east of the White House.
Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" there in 1861.
The Willard has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. Mark Twain penned two books there in the early 1900s.
The Presidential motorcade passed on Pennsylvania Avenue within a few feet one afternoon. My hands were still trembling when I got back to the famous Scotch Bar at The Willard.
Glancing down Pennsylvania at night, the brightly lit Capitol dome can catch you by surprise and be incredibly moving.
While keeping the government out of religion was fundamental to our Founders, they professed belief in our Creator.
Inscribed above the rostrum of the Speaker of the House are the words "In God We Trust."
Of the 23 marble portraits around the House chamber, Moses faces the Speaker.
Psalm 16:1 appears in the stained-glass window of the U.S. Capitol Chapel above an open Bible: "Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust."
The Latin phrase Laus Deo, which means "praise be to God," is inscribed atop the east peak of the Washington Monument facing the Capitol.
All of this to say: Go! Take your kids, especially. Taking us to Washington is one of the greatest gifts our parents gave, although no one would have ever thought so slogging through some of those museums then.
There are a hundred stories to tell from this trip, seeing old friends, meeting new, but this one is about Wendy Du, a Chinese student who came to D.C. to attend George Washington University.
She grew up in an atheist home and all of her life was taught there is no God.
After being accepted at GWU, she saw a post on the Internet about a Bible study at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and sent a message simply asking to be picked up at the airport.
Her now dear friend Amy met her, welcomed her to America, invited her to church and over time shared the Gospel that Jesus saves.
Wendy was baptized at CHBC and shared her testimony the morning I worshiped there.
Growing up Methodist and now Presbyterian, I'd never seen a dunking, but witnessed five that morning.
The packed service is one of the most worshipful I've ever experienced. We sing, but they really sing. The diversity struck me as a foretaste of Heaven.
I went because Senior Minister Mark Dever, friends with Ligon Duncan, my former pastor, has preached at our church.
"God offered me much more than a ride from the airport," Wendy told the congregation. "Instead, he showed me a new and eternal life! Praise the Lord for the joy, peace and salvation I didn't deserve."
Jim Prince is publisher of the Madison County Journal. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jimprincems.