One of the constant jokes in my family is how I always take a million pictures. Yes, I do take a lot, but it makes me happy and I have discovered that it is a form of journalling and a way I share my testimony. This past photo adventure included a quick trip to my beloved Washington D.C and Virginia. I went with my family and there were a lot of powerful moments. A lot of the moments had to do with my time I spent there as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and a lot of these powerful moments came as we walked through the history of this great nation. So for today's blog I am focusing on my experiences involving patriotism with stories and pictures!
First of all, you must know that I have always had a special place in my heart and a passion for the United States of America and her history. I love this country and the ideas that created her. As we go through some rough patches I have a deep faith that as long as these ideas and patriotism live in the hearts of a few of it's proud citizens, then my America will not die....
That being said here is picture number one that I want to share....
"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!" ~Thomas Jefferson
Night one in DC included a visit to the Jefferson Memorial... I love this place and I love that man and his contributions to our great nation. I know that it was by the hand of God that he penned the Declaration of Independence which was our "title to Liberty" declaring to all that we were ready to "...pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." I love that this picture has the word eternal right above his statue. I found this moment very profound as I thought on the eternal words that are contained in this scripture like document.
George Washington's Prayer for His Country:
"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation."
While on our visit to Mt. Vernon my mamma made arrangements for our family to lay the wreath at Washington's grave. Wow, was that powerful! My parents placed the wreath, I read Washington's prayer for his country, and my sweet little sister lead the multitude in the pledge of allegiance. After the ceremony we led all in a verse of "My Country Tis of Thee." It was a powerful experience as we stood in the wake of such a great hero and father of Liberty. I was especially touched to read that prayer, and believe it or not, I only choked up once. I will never forget the gratitude I felt in that moment for this great hero. As I read that powerful prayer I felt the love Mr. Washington has for his beloved America, and for us it's people.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Arlington Cemetery gets double pictures for double the spirit felt! I love Arlington so much. It was probably my most visited place on my mission. This is sacred ground where the souls of many heroes rest. I will forever feel a humbling duty to honor these brave souls. I had a lot of cool moments on this trip to Arlington, many of which are very personal, so I will only share a little. One took place as I took the bottom picture with the guard and the highlighted Preamble of the Constitution. As I sat in the stillness of the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and read my pocket Constitution, I had a powerful impression of the need for me to better understand and defend these words, just as these braves souls have stood to defend them so diligently. I also had the overwhelming feeling of responsibility to teach these things to my children one day and prepare them for difficult days when they will need to stand and defend. I urge all who have the spirit of patriotism to read and work to truly understand these words.
An Eternal Perspective...
Right after our Arlington visit we went to the Washington DC temple. There I felt the spirit of perspective and eternal truth....
Truth of salvation,
truth of eternal life,
truth of life beyond the grave,
truth of hope in a dark world,
truth that we are never alone, etc....
So much truth...
Through the thick and the thin...
This was a big highlight of my whole time on my American testimony tour. While passing through the WWII memorial we noticed a set up for something special. We asked around and discovered that they were about to do a ceremony honoring a number of WWII Veterans from South Carolina. We decided to stay and watch. While we waited we noticed a Navy Veteran and his sweet wife from Montana who had been invited to sit in on the ceremony. While we waited we went over to talk with them and thank them. What happened next was one of those life changing moments...
They started to share their story of 65 years of marriage and of life. She shared the struggles of being the wife of a WWII Veteran and her devotion to always stand beside and honor her husband.
He shared about his time serving our country. He shared his experience as an engineer on a ship that went down and his survival. As he reflected his eyes filled with tears, he looked me in the eyes and proclaimed... "I still see their faces..." I listened and cried as he told me more of his devotion to his America and his heartbreak in her present turmoil... He shared his desperation for the youth of today to hold to his America...
I desire with all my heart to stand for his and my America...
This humbling experience continued as the ceremony began and so many aged soldiers entered the memorial. I will not ever forget this moment and the honor I felt as I stood in the presence of these incredible individuals devoted to God, family, and country.
Korea War Memorial...
This one holds a special place in our hearts. My grandpa served bravely in Korea. As we humbly walked around we encountered another Korea War Veteran sent with a message from above to us young folk. He began by telling us the realities of Korea and explaining the tools used. Then something happened that I will not forget... Things went still and he began to cry... He looked to my siblings and I in desperation. He shared an intense desire for his America to be protected by those who still hold the spirit of patriotism. I think he saw that fire within us as he gave a powerful testimony of his love for freedom.
One of the last places we visited was the Holocaust Museum, which is a tough place to go. If you've been before you know the emotional draining that comes from this experience. While walking through I felt sick and hurt that anyone could do such horrid things to their fellow humans. The thoughts that came from this experience were of the importance of remembering. These souls deserved to be remembrance. I got the huge impression that they want to be remembered... I felt the intense love those who have suffered have for us who live now. They want us to remember so we don't have to experience what they had to. I also had the experience of why we need to stand up and defend liberty, it is so these things do not happen again to our fellow brothers and sisters. May we never forget...
Well, that about ends things so, I guess the message for today is to REMEMBER...
Remember, remember those gone before,
Remember, remember the ones who for you opened the door.
Remember, remember the sacrifice made,
Remember, Remember how they all prayed.
Remember, remember Jefferson's call,
Remember, remember how he wanted liberty for all.
Remember, remember Washington's love,
Remember, remember how he sought wisdom from above.
Remember, remember the sacred ground,
Remember, remember the brave that no longer sound.
Remember, remember the soldier who still sees,
Remember, remember his wife who believes.
Remember, remember where grandpa fought,
Remember, remember the words that veteran taught.
Remember, remember those who felt pain,
Remember, remember so that their sprits remain.
Remember, remember my sweet USA,
Remember, remember so that liberty may stay...
Poem By M.Estelle.E
Have a magical day! Thanks for reading!