Tag archives: Washington

George Washington Takes the Oath: “So Help Me God” — April 30, 1789

by Robert Morrison

April 30, 2014

It remains my favorite portrait of President Obama and the one I hope will be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. Showing our first black president in the attire of our first president is a mark of greatest respect. The New Yorker Magazine cover — which was published in 2009 — even shows our young president wearing the brown American-made suit that George Washington was careful to have made for his Inauguration. He studiously avoided any likeness to a military uniform. On this most auspicious of occasions, our first president took care to emphasize civilian authority over our military.

I took my young family to New York City for the Bicentennial of George Washington’s Inauguration in 1989. There, my wife, our seven-year old son, five-year old daughter, and I witnessed the re-enactment of that first Inaugural ceremony.

We watched as the Washington figure recited the presidential oath, adding the four words “So Help Me God.” Then he bent low to kiss the Bible. No one in 1989 questioned any of this.

President George H.W. Bush came to Lower Manhattan to lend his dignified presence to the observance of two hundred years of constitutional government in America. Ours is now the oldest written constitution in the world.

Only now, twenty-five years later, are there some people confused enough or mendacious enough publicly to express doubt that George Washington actually added those words to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath. Or, question whether he kissed that Bible.

So great is the acid bath of skepticism today that if I claimed that the sun rose at 6:12 (EDT) this morning over the Washington Monument, there would be doubters yelling “prove it.” (Here’s the U.S. Naval Observatory’s confirmation, adding one hour for Daylight Saving Time.)

It’s also the case that some of our best historians casually inform us that Washington was “not very religious.” So they tend to minimize his life membership in two Episcopal parishes — Christ Church (Alexandria) and Pohick Church (Lorton). And they must not have taken seriously his frequent references to God in his public statements. When he resigned his Commission to Congress in Annapolis in 1783, he gave an important address. In it, he did not thank his soldiers, his officers, or even the French allies who made our victory in the War of Independence possible. Instead, he thanked “the Supreme Power of the Union and the patronage of Heaven.”

Sen. William Maclay was a sometimes waspish observer of events in the First Congress. The Pennsylvania Jeffersonian did not much like the formal manners and practices of New Yorkers and the “Republican Court” that formed around President and Lady Washington. Maclay thought it all seemed too monarchical.

Even so, Maclay was impressed when Washington took the Oath for the first time.

even the great Washington trembled when he faced the assembled representatives and senators. “This great man was agitated and embarrassed,” Maclay added, “more than ever he was by the levelled Cannon or pointed Musket.”

Maclay was not the first one to notice that George Washington, who charged into British cannon at Princeton and who had several horses shot out from under him on the Pennsylvania frontier during the French & Indian War, trembled when he stood in a vast public assembly and performed great civic duties.

Perhaps that’s because George Washington feared God and no one else. He believed that Providence — that eighteenth century expression for God’s Hand among us — was physically present on these august occasions.

How do we know that? He told us so, repeatedly. In his Inaugural Address, he offered:

my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

George Washington felt the presence of God in this first presidential swearing-in ceremony two hundred twenty-five years ago today. In his habitually dignified language, in his eighteenth century locutions, he says so explicitly. And we all know Washington could not tell a lie.

Washington in Annapolis: “The Greatest Exit in American History’ December 23, 1783

by Robert Morrison

December 23, 2013

The day will doubtless pass quietly in Maryland’s capital. Christmas shoppers will crowd onto Generals Highway, mostly unaware that its name comes from General Washington’s visit to this little town two hundred thirty years ago. Still, General Washington’s resigning his commission in Annapolis deserves to be remembered.

It was the final scene of the American Revolution. Congress had been meeting for months in Annapolis, working on ratification of the Treaty of Paris. That was the signed and sealed document by which Great Britain would officially recognize our Independence. The final great military clash of the war, the Battle of Yorktown, more than two years earlier, had resulted in an American victory with the indispensable aid of thousands of French soldiers and sailors.

A tall and powerful figure in the saddle, Washington was described by his fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, as the best horseman of the age. Washington had ridden all the way from New York to Annapolis for this occasion, his journey interrupted by countless tributes and toasts. Many of the towns through which he passed saluted his arrival with booming cannon and ringing church bells.

Now, nearing the holidays, Gen. Washington had one last duty to perform before returning to his beloved Mount Vernon plantation for Christmas Eve. Washington spent four days in Annapolis in a round of dinners and receptions. The night before his resignation was spent in dancing. He was a superb dancer and the ladies of what was called “first fashion” wanted to dance with him. He danced every dance.

The General entered the Old State House to appear before Congress. The members made a point of remaining seated; there would be no bowing to Washington, as if he were a monarch. Instead, His Excellency bowed to them. It was his way of showing his deference to the civilian authority that he had obeyed faithfully throughout his eight years as Commanding General of the armies and navy of the United States.

Jefferson, a member from Virginia, especially appreciated this in Washington. Years later, he would reflect: “The moderation and virtue of a single character probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

Washington was not abandoning the country he loved. He commended the nation to “the protection of Almighty God” and asked Him to keep those who governed America in His “holy keeping.” Washington’s hands shook as he pronounced the words. A cloud of witnesses recorded the scene in letters and diaries. And the Maryland Archives proudly preserves his handwritten speech. Yet, today, some historians persist in telling us Washington was not very religious.

Perhaps no other military figure in American history deserves such acclaim. Most of Washington’s battles were defeats. Yet, Washington held the Army and the Union together with his firm leadership.

Author Richard Brookhiser tells this remarkable story of Washington’s steadying presence, not at a great victory, but at a planned and carefully staged retreat. A Rhode Island veteran of the Continental Army described the scene. You can tell the men were on the verge of panic, but:

There was only one bridge over the stream, and as his unit was hurrying across it, he saw that Washington had posted himself on the other side, to oversee the retreat. All the while there was an artillery duel going on between the British and the Americans on the other side of the creek. As he crossed the bridge, [the teenage soldier] was jostled against Washington’s boot and the flank of his horse. He remembered — 50 years later — that the horse was as firm as the rider and seemed to know that he was not to quit his station. What the man did not say is that, at the moment of contact, he also knew this because Washington’s presence gave him a sense that all was not chaos, that the battle was under control,

Before Annapolis, some of Washington’s young officers pleaded with him not to surrender his commission to Congress, but to seize the reins of power. The country was adrift, they said, and the hard-won prize of Independence was in jeopardy as the economy languished and foreign states — including Muslim hostage takers along the Barbary Coast of North Africa — held American liberties in contempt.

I cannot act, Washington firmly replied, the people must act. But, Your Excellency, his worried young aides retorted, the people do not understand how bad things really are. Unmoved, Washington answered with that same firmness he had shown at the bridge, at a hundred bridges: “The people must feel an evil before they can see it.”

It’s worth considering as we face another critical period in our country’s life. At home, ObamaCare threatens basic freedoms as no other measure has in 230 years, especially religious freedom. Abroad, hateful regimes that murder missionaries and imprison pastors are bent on obtaining nuclear weapons. Americans are certainly feeling the evil.

Our task is to remember that steadfastness of Washington at the bridge. He showed his respect for constitutional principles when he freely surrendered his commission to those from whose hands he had received it. King George III, once his bitter foe, said if he does that then he truly will be “the greatest man in the world.” And historian Joseph Ellis calls it “the greatest exit in American history.”

Farewell, Frappuccinos

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 20, 2012

My home state of Washington has produced some of America’s leading corporations and entrepreneurs: Microsoft and Bill Gates; the Nordstrom, Boeing and Weyerhaeuser families and their eponymously named companies; the Eddie Bauer sporting goods empire; and the nearly omnipresent Starbucks (almost 11,000 stores worldwide).

Starbucks emerged in the 1970s at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One of my sisters bought me a bag of cocoa powder from this location more than three decades ago; if I still had it, it likely would fetch a nice collector’s price.

For many years, I’ve enjoyed going to Starbucks, becoming acquainted with any number of “baristas” and drinking enough of its variously flavored beverages that “grande” characterizes my waistline as much as the size of a given drink. Even when traveling in the Middle East, the taste of a frappuccino has been a welcome reminder that one can go home again. And I’ve always been glad to go into a place that, in some ways, still reminds me of home (there’s a reason Starbucks’ interiors usually are muted; it’s a Pacific Northwest thing).

With Microsoft and several other major firms, Starbucks last month endorsed the effort of some of the Evergreen State’s leading politicians to enact homosexual “marriage.” Although this initiative passed in the state legislature and was signed into law by departing Gov. Christine Gregoire, it likely will be on the state ballot in November.

What is a bit maddening, given Starbucks’ strident advocacy for the redefinition of marriage, is CEO Howard Schultz’s claim that he is non-political. As he said just a few days ago, “I have no interest in public office … I have only one interest, and that is I want the country to be on the right track.”

Schultz continued, “I just feel that for some reason, over the last few years, there’s been a fracturing of understanding and sensibility about the responsibility that the leadership in Washington must have to the people who are being left behind … And I’m significantly disappointed about the ideology, the partisanshipness, and, obviously, the way in which everyone in Washington is focused on one thing right now, which is reelection.”

To Schultzs credit, he authored a pledge, now signed by a fairly large group of CEOs, in which they promise, I join my fellow concerned Americans in pledging to withhold any further campaign contributions to elected members of Congress and the President until a fair, bipartisan deal is reached that sets our nation on stronger long-term fiscal footing.

This is admirable, and no doubt motivated by a patriotic desire to see the U.S. once again become the engine of economic growth that, for so many decades, it has been. Yet the key to a strong economy is a strong family a family composed of a father, a mother, and children. The hard data prove it. By supporting a movement that would further vitiate the already weakened family unit, Schultz is tacitly but actively advocating the continued erosion of the institution the two-parent, heterosexual, traditional and complementary family unit without which no economy or society generally can thrive.

Additionally, Schultzs decrying of divisiveness rings a bit hollow when he plunges his company feet-first into the culture wars. The effort to redefine marriage to include same-sex partners is a radical social innovation, one fraught with dangerous implications for individuals, families, and culture. Claiming to be post-political and then allowing ones chief corporate spokesperson to say that same-sex marriage is is core to who we are and what we value as a company are assertions that dont quite add up.

So, for now, at least, I will buy my overpriced flavored coffees elsewhere. I dislike boycotts for a number of reasons, but am undertaking a personal one at present. Being for marriage, as understood in the Judeo-Christian context and Western tradition, is much more to the core of who I am than a Starbucks iced mocha ever will be.

A Wise Verdict for One Man, One Woman Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

February 1, 2012

Legislation to change the definition of marriage abolishing the one man, one woman definition codified only 14 years ago is now working its way through the Washington State Legislature.

There is little doubt that the legislature has the power to engage in such social engineering if it chooses to do so. Such official affirmation of homosexual conduct would be a way for politicians to appease the two to three percent of the population who self-identify as gay or lesbian and placate others who do not grasp the implications of this massive social change.

But same-sex marriage is not being sold as a political payoff, or even (primarily) as a social service providing a package of legal and financial benefits to this population. Instead, advocates of redefining marriage argue that a belief in civil rights and equality actually compel such a radical redefinition of our most fundamental social institution.

Yet it was only six years ago that the states Supreme Court, in the case of Andersen v. King County, rejected such arguments in upholding the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act.

Justice (now Chief Justice) Barbara Madsen pointed out in her majority opinion that while the U. S. Supreme Court has declared marriage to be a fundamental right, it has done so only in the context of marriages between a man and a woman, since they relate to procreation and the survival of the human race.

In his concurrence, Justice James M. Johnson noted that the only inequality in the current law is between different types of couples, not individuals. Professed homosexuals, like all Washingtonians, are clearly allowed to marry in Washington. Yet all individuals also face limits on their choice of marriage partner: A person may not marry someone under age 17, may not marry if already married, may not marry a close relative, and may not marry if the parties are persons other than a male and a female. The last prohibition, like the bigamy/polygamy prohibition, is definitional.

There is no question that opposite-sex couples are unique; as Justice Madsen noted, [N]o other relationship has the potential to create, without third party involvement, a child biologically related to both parents. The link between marriage and procreation is not defeated by the fact that the law allows opposite-sex marriage regardless of a couples willingness or ability to procreate, nor by the fact that some same-sex couples raise children; Such over- or under-inclusiveness does not defeat finding a rational basis for treating opposite-sex couples uniquely.

Marriage serves not only to encourage the potentially procreative relationships of opposite-sex couples, but also to regulate them. Justice Madsen quoted a 2005 Indiana court decision which noted that procreation is sometimes accidental: [The] institution of opposite-sex marriage both encourages such couples to enter into a stable relationship before having children and to remain in such a relationship if children arrive during the marriage unexpectedly.

Not only are opposite-sex couples the only ones capable of natural procreation, but they also provide the best environment for child-rearing. As Justice Johnson wrote: The legislature was offered evidence that children tend to thrive best in families consisting of mothers, fathers, and their biological children. … Direct comparisons between opposite-sex homes and same-sex homes further support the former as a better environment for children. For example, studies show an average shorter term commitment and more sexual partners for same-sex couples.

Advocates of same-sex marriage regularly confuse one of the personal reasons why individual couples choose to marry to express love and commitment with the public purposes of marriage as a social institution. Justice Madsen was blunt in noting that the right to marry is not grounded in the States interest in promoting loving, committed relationships. While desirable, nowhere in any marriage statute of this state has the legislature expressed this goal.

Some people argue that other changes in the institution of marriage, as well as technologies which have separated sexual relations from procreation, mean that the historic definition of marriage can be abandoned. But as Justice Johnson noted, quoting a brief submitted by Families Northwest, [W]idespread contraceptive and abortion rights may actually make more salient, not less, the traditional role of marriage in encouraging men and women to make the next generation that society needs. The more … choice individuals have about whether or not to have children, the more need there is for a social institution that encourages men and women to have babies together, and creates the conditions under which those children are likely to get the best care.

In 2006, Justice Madsen said for the court, We conclude that limiting marriage to opposite sex-couples furthers the States interests in procreation and encouraging families with a mother and father and children biologically related to both.

The legislature would be wise to conclude the same today.

The Mall Mauled

by Robert Morrison

July 8, 2011

The National Mall in Washington is our nations showplace. Its intended to be that centerpiece that we share with millions of our fellow Americans who flock to the capital each year, as well as with tens of thousands of foreign tourists who are drawn to see this Great Republic. I had the honor of taking two young New Zealanders on a trek around the Mall earlier this week. I always enjoy sharing our great monuments with friends new and old. Dr. Sam Bloore and his wife, Julia, were my guests.

I was, frankly, embarrassed by the mess on the Mall. Not just the trash left over, but the torn-up, boarded-up, barricaded mess that theyve made of this great public space.

Everywhere there are Jersey walls, chain-link fences, ugly signs, plastic orange cones.

Is it the fault of this administration? Frankly, yes, it is. I know, I know. People will say that President Obama is hard-pressed. Hes busy driving the unemployment from 9.1% to 9.2%. Hes got three wars where hes trying to lead from behind [their phrase]. Hes heavily engaged in evolving on marriage. Apparently, a 41% out-of-wedlock birthrate is not high enough to produce enough low-income voters who will share the wealth around, so hes working hard to repeal welfare reform and make marriage a total irrelevance.

Cant you conservatives give the poor man a break? Arent you being too partisan?

Not really. It was Democrat Harry Truman, after all, who kept a sign on his desk in the Oval Office: The Buck Stops Here. After 800 days of this administration, however, it is the President of China who keeps a sign on his desk: Your Bucks Stop Here.

When President Reagan took office, the economy was in shambles, too. Fifty-two Americans had been held for 444 days, released only on the day he took the oath. The Soviets were running amok in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan delivered his Inaugural Address from the West Portico of the Capitol, looking out over the magnificent Mall. It was clear and clean, as stern as those days were.

Ronald Reagan made a point of sprucing up our national parks, restoring our sense of civic pride in being Americans. He never bowed to foreign despots. Jimmy Carter had ordered our military not to wear their uniforms in the nations capital. Ronald Reagan required them. The Statue of Liberty was completely refurbished on Reagans watch. He was proud to preside in 1986 over the re-lighting of the torch held high by the Lady in the Harbor.

Once you get past the Jersey walls, there is still a lot to appreciate on the Mall. At the World War II Memorial, Julia Bloore shared with me stories of her grandfathers. One, a Hollander, had to endure Nazi occupation. The other, one of New Zealands always brave solders, became a prisoner of war of the Germans. The experience broke his health. I told these young friends about my dad, how he survived being torpedoed by a German U-boat. These family experiencesthese tributes to our fathersbring us together.

The World War II Memorial has a somber but beautiful display of 4,300 bronze stars arrayed above a reflecting pool. There, my Kiwi friends delicately asked me why it was the United States had waited so longuntil December 7, 1941to enter the Second World War. New Zealand, like Australia, Canada, and South Africa, had declared war on Germany when Britain did, in September, 1939.

I pointed out those stars. Each one represents one hundred American fighting men who laid down their lives in the war. That is mute testimony to why Americans hate war and why we honor those who sacrifice so much for our freedom. Today, hundreds of World War II veterans come to the WWII Memorial, many of them moved to tears. There were twelve million of them then. They are passing on to the last muster at the rate of thousands each day.

At the Jefferson Memorial, we took time actually to read the words engraved on the wall God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

The full quote goes on: gave us liberty at the same time. Jefferson did not think it was above his pay grade when life and liberty are endowed. Maybe thats why President Obama keeps saying we are all born equal with inalienable rights, but never mentions Who it is who endows us with those rights. Jefferson had no trouble acknowledging the divine Author of our liberties.

You can get to the Lincoln Memorial from the Jefferson only with difficulty. But its worth the effort. I read the familiar words carved into the stone wall with new solemnity this year: Our Fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation… Will the assault on marriage, the merciless attack on the very notion of fatherhood, make this sentence from the Gettysburg Address incomprehensible to future generations?

The Washington Monument should be first in any tour of the Mall. It was for us. We could not go up to the 555-foot summit. You had to wait until 8 pm for a ticket to ride.

Thats an encouraging note. Washington still commands our respect. I pointed out an aluminum pyramid that tops the Washington Monument. On its East front is engraved Laus Deo. Praise the Lord!

By law, no building in the capital can be as tall as the Washington Monument. That means that the first rays of each mornings sun strike the words Praise the Lord.

I told the New Zealanders about Christopher Hitchens. Hes the British Marxist who became a naturalized American citizen. Ann Coulter points out that liberals loved Hitch when he wrote a book attacking Mother Teresa, hated him when he wrote a book attacking Bill Clinton. But now, all is forgiven. Hitch wrote a book attacking God.

Standing beneath the Washington Monument, you know this is the wrong country to come to if you want a career as an atheizer. A days tour of the monuments reinforces your belief that this country has been blessed by God, and has sought His protection from the beginning. Laus Deo!

Mount Saint Helens Erupts: 18 May 1980

by Robert Morrison

May 18, 2010

The phone rang insistently just after 8:32 that quiet Sunday morning in Silverdale, Washington. My wife and I were getting up, planning on going to church in our quiet community. My mother was on the line, calling from Roanoke, Virginia, and quite agitated: Are you alright? Did the blast harm your home? Will you be covered by lava, by ash?

I didnt know what she was talking about. Oh, the mountain has been rumbling for weeks, I told her, trying to assuage her concerns. NO! Its erupted. Mount Saint Helens is all over the news.

I ran to the window, straining to see any evidence of the volcanos dense cloud of ash. I saw nothing. We were about 100 miles north of the mountain.

Turning on the television, we learned that the volcano had indeed erupted, with the force a nuclear bomb, and with devastating results. The top of the mountain was blown away. Volcanic ash rose violently and menacingly sixteen miles into the air. Spirit Lake was destroyed.

Washington States rich agricultural regionsEastern Washingtonwere all in the path of the ash cloud. Soon, pictures on television showed towns and villages blanketed with ash, like some weird blizzard in May. And the TV stations provided maps of the expected path of the ash cloud.

I called my mother and dad back to reassure them. They were more likely to feel the volcanos effects than we were, I told them. And by that time it passed over Virginia, it would mostly have dissipated. Thats because the prevailing winds were carrying the cloud eastward. The ash cloud would have to circle the globe before it dumped any ash on those of us who lived north and west of the destruction.

Our hearts and our prayers went out, nonetheless, to our friends in Eastern Washington. It seemed they were facing an environmental disaster of the first order. The media had been playing up the catastrophic possibilities for plant and animal life for months.

The press was not so concerned about Harry Truman, however. This curmudgeonly old cabin-dwellerno relation to the feisty President of the same name—had been adopted by Seattles TV stations as the hardy representative of the Wild West. Soon, even if Harry Truman had had second thoughts about the rumbling mountain under his feet, he would have faced embarrassment for not sticking it out.

Gov. Dixie Lee Ray, an atomic scientist, had publicly pleaded with Harry to be reasonable. She wanted to send in state troopers to yank the old man out of the path of danger. Mount Saint Helens will erupt, she said, and the results could be devastating.

For awhile, they were. Several dozen people lost their lives, including the redoubtable Harry Truman. Those blanketed towns and farms had a job digging out.

But what strikes us now, thirty years later, is not how fragile the earth is, but how resilient. Trees have come back to the blast area, especially red alder. Fish are back in Spirit Lake. Deer and elk thrive today. Heres what an official U.S. Government website says about Mount Saint Helens:

It wasnt long before scientists working in the area found surviving populations of plants and animals. This was particularly evident in areas protected by snow cover and where erosion had thinned the overlying ash deposits (along streams and in gullies that formed on hill slopes). Plants were observed sprouting from the pre-eruption soil surface and signs of activity by gophers and ants indicated that subterranean animals (living below ground) had survived beneath the volcanic ash.

The survival of plants and animals in the midst of the apparent total devastation was of special interest to the scientific community. Early studies have demonstrated that, even after a large-scale, catastrophic disturbance, recovery processes are strongly influenced by carry over of living and dead organic material from pre-disturbance ecosystems. At Mount St. Helens, ecosystem recovery was influenced not only by the survival of plants and animals, but also by the tremendous quantities of organic material that remained in the standing dead and blown down forest.

What was the most surprising discovery immediately following the eruption?

The single greatest surprise to scientists entering the blast zone shortly after the eruption was the realization that many organisms survived in, what initially appeared to be, a lifeless landscape

Washington State is not only renowned for Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks, the Evergreen State is justly famous for her apples, cherries, and blueberries. This rich volcanic ash proved to be a great fertilizer. The states agricultural bounty quickly bounced back.

Lets consider this when we hear predictions of gloom and doom from floods or earthquakes or even oil spills. We dont welcome these events and, where we can, we should take vigorous action to mitigate the effects of these natural disasters.

When Scripture tells us The Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, we need to internalize that message, caring lovingly for the great gifts He has given us, but mindful that, in the final analysis, He has the whole world in His hands. Its not in ours.

Check out PBS NOVA, Back from the Dead trailer

Save School Choice in Washington, D.C.

by Krystle Gabele

May 7, 2009

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the “Save Our D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Rally” at Freedom Plaza. Students from several Charter and private schools were in attendance chanting, “Put Kids First,” as well as parents, who were very concerned about the loss of funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, which allow students to attend private schools, instead of lower performing public schools throughout the District.

The crowd heard from many speakers, including Former Mayor Anthony Williams, Council member Marion Barry, School Choice advocate, Virginia Walden Ford, and many others, who were concerned about the education system in Washington, D.C. While there were many parents who spoke on behalf of the scholarships, the real impact came from two young men who talked about the education that they are able to achieve at the private schools where they are attending, compared to the public schools they used to attend. Both of these young men are brilliant, and there is no doubt that they will be able to achieve whatever career path they choose to pursue. Here is the video of their speech:

Why President Obama would want to end their dreams by eliminating these scholarships is puzzling. Obama was a product of a quality private education, and he has chosen the same education for his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Why would he deny the same opportunity for students in the District?

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