PRINCE/'In God We Trust'
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 1:00 AM
A delegation of Mississippi newspaper publishers was in Washington, D.C., last week pushing for Postal reform the National Newspaper Association is advancing.
More than 100 newspaper representatives from 34 states were on Capitol Hill on Thursday about the same time President Obama was.
While not my first Presidential motorcade, watching from the third floor of the Cannon House Office Building as the black limousines and SUVs sped from the U.S. Capitol west down Constitution Avenue was especially significant and captivating. After all, there have only been 43 of them.
As a boy, our family had been to D.C., - yes, we toured the White House. Then I returned during undergrad to interview Larry Speaks (in the West Wing).
During grad school, some fraternity brothers and I camped the Appalachian Trail and ended up in D.C. But this visit was especially meaningful as a working journalist.
Rep. Gregg Harper graciously provided (he volunteered) a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol after hours Thursday evening.
The capitol is among the most symbolically important and architecturally impressive buildings in the world.
The 19th-century neoclassical architecture evokes the ideals that guided the Founders as they formed our new Republic. The grandeur is breathtaking every, single visit.
Painted in 1865 by Constantino Brumidi, the Apotheosis of Washington in the eye of the Capitol Rotunda depicts George Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory/Fame and surrounded by six groups of figures.
There were some somber moments of reflection and gratitude for being free Americans and having the privilege of this tour.
My hope in our country is renewed. Plainly evident throughout the Capitol is that it is in God whom the Founders trusted.
John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting in the Capitol Rotunda that depicts the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress.
Harper pointed out John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister and the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence, as a hero of his.
On May 17, 1776, just weeks before Witherspoon would sign the Declaration, he preached a sermon on God's providence, how that God guides and governs and directs and controls all things, from the greatest to the least.
Few had the influence Witherspoon did during the Revolutionary War. In that sermon he told his congregation, "If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage."
Probably won't read that in a textbook.
Construction of the Capitol began in 1793. On Aug. 24, 1814, British troops set fire to the building during the War of 1812.
We saw two rooms in the office of House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy's suite that were not burned by the Brits. And in that suite of offices you can see the original exterior east wall.
There is a chapel in the U.S. Capitol with an open Bible. On a stained-glass window in the chapel is Psalm 16:1, which says, "Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust."
You won't read about that in a textbook either.
The words "In God We Trust" are engraved on the wall of the U.S. House of Representatives above the Speaker's chair and above the south door of the Senate.
Of the 22 profiles carved around the House, only the face of Moses looks directly at the Speaker of the House.
You won't find that in a textbook.
Stones visible in the base of Reagan's statue in Statuary Hall are pieces of the Berlin Wall.
We were given access to the Speaker's Balcony which overlooks the National Mall.
Rep. Harper demonstrated the heart of a servant when he walked us out the south side of the Capitol all the way to Constitution Avenue and hailed us cabs. That act exemplifies public service.
Sens. Wicker and Cochran graciously offered us an audience as did Rep. Palazzo.
In Cochran's office, we ran into our old friend Haley Barbour. I was about to get in trouble with one of the Senator's gatekeepers when Barbour caught my eye as he was finishing up with the Senator and started walking toward us.
One of our last stops on day four was the Jefferson Memorial.
Jefferson's words "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" are inscribed below the interior dome.
Reading the words of the Declaration of Independence etched on the southwest wall that begins "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." brought a rush of emotion.
As college men, we'd stood there one night and pledged eternal hostility against every form of tyranny, not knowing fully what our callings, providentially, would be.
Jim Prince is editor and publisher of The Neshoba Democrat.