One of the most impactful moments of the past few days was the scene of then President-elect Trump looking up at the face of Lincoln during the Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration between “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Star Spangled Banner”. I pray and hope that the moment of reflection and the past few months have shown our new President that he is in the office of giants. The decisions he will have to make over the next few years will be monumental. The situations he will endure will be incredibly difficult, and even painful. The backlash he will receive for doing what he’s promised will be excessively hateful. It will be difficult, but was it ever easy to hold this office?
- Before he was even in office, George Washington had to deal with the infamous “Newburgh Conspiracy”. In brilliance and tact, he ended it with one statement. As he fumbled to put on a pair of spectacles he said, “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown old in the service of my country and now find that I am growing blind.” And with that statement, the eyes of many grew damp, and an enormous respect was generated toward the man who stood before them. The historical giant showed his humanity, and it served him well.
- Abraham Lincoln took office at a time when the nation was more divided than ever. At his election, several states had seceded. His predecessor refused to take action, making the decision even harder. Once the Civil War had begun, Lincoln was asked to make difficult decisions almost every day. Shortly thereafter, he issued the controversial Emancipation Proclamation. He acted on what he believed, no matter the consequence.
- Woodrow Wilson had to decide whether or not to get involved in World War One. He had been reelected on the campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war”. When he learned that Germany was conspiring with Mexico to invade our southern border, he was faced with a difficult decision. The sinking of the Lusitania only made the decision more urgent and emotional.
- Harry Truman had to decided whether or not to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Refusing to do so would lead to an extremely long and deadly invasion campaign. Giving the command would catapult the world into a new age of warfare.
- JFK had to deal with the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which he would have never been able to handle without his Attorney General/brother Robert Kennedy.
- Reagan had to diffuse several situations and make many negotiations during the last decade of the Cold War.
- Bush 43 had to decide on the course of action to take after the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He would face backlash as people began to forget the horrors of the attacks, but he continued to do what he believed was right.
The decisions that have been made by our Commander-in-Chiefs throughout history have literally shaped our current world. The weight of that should impact every person who holds that office. That may be why George Washington famously improvised the phrase “So help me God” at the end of his first Oath of Office. That may why the only public statement FDR made on D-day was to read a prayer. That may be why Eisenhower opened his cabinet meetings with prayers. There has been a great history of our leaders resting themselves entirely on God to provide comfort and guidance during their toughest hours of service. President Trump’s Inaugural Speech has led me to believe that the legacy will continue.
“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
“There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and most importantly, we will be protected by God.”
“It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same Almighty Creator.”
-Three references to God in Trump’s Inauguration Speech (his Inauguration ceremony set the record for most prayers at any Inauguration in our history)