America: My Grandfather (in 1776) Helped Birth This Nation… And Here We Are!

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We finally landed at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. My husband, Hank and I and over four hundred others from Oklahoma had looked forward to this trip for sixteen months!

“Worship Over Washington” was a mission trip of the Singing ChurchWomen, Singing ChurchMen, and the Baptist Symphony Orchestra, and we had a full agenda, and great expectations for our five days in our nation’s capital.

We passed the Pentagon Building as our tour bus took us to the hotel. My mind flashed back to September 11th, 2001, when a hijacked Boeing 757 crashed into the west side of the US Department of Defense headquarters, killing 189 people. I was reminded that even a “fortress” isn’t safe from evil…  I grabbed Hank’s hand and held it a little tighter than usual. [Stay tuned and invite your friends to subscribe! We just met a man who’s son was killed in one of the planes that flew into the twin towers in NYC on 9/11 ! See the interview in September’s issue of Inspiring Hope!]

Our first evening there, Friday May 25th, was truly inspiring and memorable. Our US Senator James Lankford led us on a private tour of the Capitol Building, including the House and Senate chambers.

We’d seen it on TV, but being there at our United States Capitol Building was an overwhelming feeling!

We were in awe as we walked through the Senate Chambers, particularly, seeing and touching the individual desks where each Senator works. Sadly, the original desks and chairs were all burned down during the War of 1812, when British troops attacked Washington DC. What we saw this night were desks rebuilt and completed in 1819. Other desks were added over the years, replicating the ones after 1812, as the number of states — and their Senators — grew.

The exhilaration of being in our nation’s capital fueled our sleep-deprived and jet-lagged bodies. Our first evening in Washington DC began with dinner at the Capitol Hill Club (where US Congressmen and Senators often dine), and a very rare private tour of the House and Senate Chambers by Oklahoma’s US Senator James Lankford. #JamesLankford #USSenate

Drawing of the original Senate Chambers in Washington, DC.

We sat mesmerized as Senator Lankford shared an inspiring inside-look at not only what had taken place in this building over the last 200 years (including being burned down by the British in the War of 1812), but also what God is doing at this very moment. He cited daily bible studies, prayer groups, and ministries serving there in DC specifically to and for our legislature and their families. Lankford reminded us that what we see on the media is often not a true representation of what’s going on in reality. More than anything this night, we were each challenged and inspired to pray diligently for our elected officials.

I Timothy 2:1-2:   I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Quote from Senator Lankford:

People often ask me, ‘Why would you want to go and work in such a God-less place like Washington DC?’ I reply, ‘God has called me here, and He is here working, too. This is my mission, my calling for such a time as this.’ US Senator James Lankford, Republican, OK

(Photo: Sen. James Lankford, Becky & Hank Wright)

The 400 of us encircled the exquisite Rotunda of the Capitol and lifted our prayers, scripture readings, and voices of worship in song. It was a profound and Heavenly moment. Senator Lankford led us on a tour through Statuary Hall as he shared fascinating historic and recent events in this room and others in the building. Being avid American history buffs, we were captivated!

I was humbled and honored that Sen. Lankford recalled (and thanked me for) my volunteer work with Oklahoma Fosters, our state’s ongoing effort to enlist more foster families for the approximately 11,000 children in foster care in our state.

We truly have a Godly man representing us in Washington DC! He reminds us that our prayers truly matter, and are critical in helping good overcome evil and true freedom and goodness to rule.

The Declaration of Independence painting in the US Capitol Rotunda; by John Trumbull, commissioned in 1817.

Since childhood, I have been told of my seventh-generation grandfather, John Hart, who was one of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. What I’ve learned over the years, however, is that John was not only a signer, he was a personal friend of George Washington. Hart was also instrumental in helping the US troops of the Revolutionary War succeed in victory during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. The men were starving, exhausted, and needed a place to rest and find food. My grandparents hospitality made all the difference in the world!

Prior to the Battle of Monmouth, Hart invited Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army to make camp on his farm, and his offer was accepted. From June 22–24, 1778, 12,000 men occupied his fields, and on at least one occasion Gen. Washington dined with their host… my 7th -generation grandparents’ dining room!  (Portions borrowed from Wikipedia.)

 

In 2012, I flew to Pennsylvania to deliver the closing keynote speech (and I sang, of course) for their statewide adoption conference. Afterwards, I rented a car to drive the two hours over to Hopewell, NJ, where John and Deborah Hart are buried. A small town of 10,000 people, there was only one “Hart Street”, and I quickly located his house and homestead. As I pulled into the driveway of what is (amazingly) still a private residence, I couldn’t hold back the tears of emotion. I called my mother, saying, “Mom, I found it, I found it!” (See my original photos of that trip, John Hart’s house, grave, etc. HERE.) (John Hart painting, Right; Hart home, built in 1711, below)

Photograph (taken in the 1950’s) of the John Hart Home in Hopewell, NJ, from the biography “John Hart: A Biography” written by long-time owner of the property, Cleon E. Hammond. See Becky’s Photos of the actual house!

When I returned from that life-changing trip, I immediately joined the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter in my town. My husband and I also were thrilled to visit the DAR Library and State Rooms while in Washington DC. Almost every state has it’s own period-decorated room. I’ve included just two here, Oklahoma and Maryland. (If you’d like to see more, “Like” my Facebook page here and stay tuned when the album is ready: www.facebook.com/beckywrightmusic )
The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Building (World-renowned Library and period State Rooms) is a sight to behold! My husband and I found books on our family names and ancestors back to the 1600’s ! We wished we could have stayed all day!

[Interested in joining your local DAR chapter? Must prove lineage to anyone who served or gave aid toward American Independence during the Revolutionary War period. INFO.]

Left and below: Maryland state room, decorated as in the 1820’s. Oklahoma room (below).

 

The Maryland state room at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington, DC. Photo by Becky Wright. (If you know me, you KNOW why I love this room! Can you guess? Leave a comment below!)

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma state room at the DAR Library in Washington DC. Photo by Becky Wright.

 

Our visit to the National Archives Building was a truly hallowed experience. Although the documents were faded and protected by glass and very dim lighting, to see and be six inches from so many original documents of our founding fathers and mothers (from the 1700’s to modern day) was a rare gift. Our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, documents, audio files, videos (from the Civil War era, Presidents like Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, many others) created an incredible, rich experience, spurring greater appreciation of our American History. I highly recommend a visit here!

Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo by Becky Wright.

We were truly blessed by the tour guide of our particular group (we broke into several small groups, each on one bus). She was not only a wealth of information, she (a historian and former teacher) was genuinely passionate about our American history. We learned things we’d never heard, and the day was filled with “WOW!” moments. It was worth the 3 miles of walking to bask in this treasure!

 

What very few people know (but you, my faithful readers, are getting privileged information, haha!) is that my husband and I were stopped by the Secret Service! We were walking along a grassy area near a parking lot, then continued onto a sidewalk that ran out beyond the trees. As soon as we rounded the corner, we caught a glimpse of the White House on our left, and tour group on our right. I honestly had no idea the White House was that close, and pulled out my camera to capture the image.

Suddenly an officer began walking quickly toward us, yelling, “Stop where you are! Don’t go any further! Jump over the fence! Get off the street!” (There was a 2′ high fence next to the one-lane street we were walking on.) I was awaiting knee surgery as soon as we arrived back home, so my husband held my arm as we each attempted to obey orders and step over the fence. We were halted in mid-stride with another loud order.

“Hands in the air! Don’t take another step! Don’t move!!” The Secret Service Officer drew his gun and pointed right at my husband and me.

Our hearts were racing as we immediately froze at this second officer’s order. My eyes instinctively filled with tears as fear fell on us like a sudden thunderstorm. Hank and I didn’t know whether to “jump over the fence and get off the street” (the first officer’s order), or to “stop where we were and put our hands in the air” (the second officer’s order). We opted for a quick compromise, trying to step over the fence with our hands in the air — no small feat with my knee condition!

Thankfully, the officers must have noticed the look of horror and stance of utter surrender from my husband and me, and quickly calmed down and put their guns away! They explained that this was a “working street” (code language for a street for the White House security and personnel to get away quickly if need be), and that we could not walk on it. Hank and I laughed afterwards, of course, once the danger had passed. We knew we’d have a cool story to tell our grandkids one day!

Our concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial reached hundreds of people in person, and countless thousands via internet. Thanks to Dr. Randy Lind, Worship Director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Brad Henderson, Orchestra Director, and Dr. Phil Barfoot, Celebration Concert Tours.

The first time we saw the Lincoln Memorial was in 2008. We were here with our youngest two sons, and our 17-year-old niece. We’ll never forget hearing Amanda exclaim, “Ahh! This is that scene from ‘Planet of the Apes’!!

Haha! Ten years later, we’re still laughing over that one!

As usual for me, I took over 300 photographs. Many of them will be (eventually) uploaded to a Facebook album on this page. Our Kennedy Center Concert, other monuments and more.

My husband and I often watch the television series, “Timeless”. The main characters (a historian, a soldier, and a scientist) travel through time to stop the bad guys from messing up the timeline- and changing history. I’ve often wondered how one person’s life choices – for better or for worse — affects all of humankind in the future. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John Hart, Teddy Roosevelt, our Congress and Senators, and Jesus, Himself — all made choices that continue to affect our present… and the future.

I pray that my choices this day, this week, this year, will help leave a legacy of faith (the title of our recent album by the Singing ChurchWomen & ChurchMen, incidentally) for future generations. What legacy will you leave by your choices today? What might we each do differently, with our time, talent and treasures (money) to help build a good heritage for our children and grandchildren and the world they will live in until Christ returns? Just a thought, and certainly my prayer.

7 thoughts on “America: My Grandfather (in 1776) Helped Birth This Nation… And Here We Are!

  1. Donna Huddleston

    Dear Becky, Expanding on your blog. We had many wonderful opportunities in Washington. I was in Group 2, you in Group 1, so we didn’t get to see y’all as much as I would have liked. While we were in the house chambers, James Lankford asked if we had questions, Toward the end, I asked could we pray? He finished with a couple of more questions, then called on me to pray in the House Chambers. I have never been so blessed in my life. While at the Lincoln Memorial singing, I sat down on the steps, I little Hispanic boy was waving his flag, I patted me leg, she came and sat on my lap while we were singing 3 songs. It was so sweet, his Mama said, “he doesn’t know his Grandma, I said “he can call me Grandma” Abuela. His name was Jose and he was 5. While we were in the Bible Museum, there was a beautiful family from Ethiopia. The young Mother’s skin was beautiful. I told her so, she told me she was going thru chemo. I later asked if we could pray for her, Her name in English is Mercy, All 430 of us prayed for her that night. What a wonderful blessing!!!!
    . .

    Reply
    1. Becky Wright Post author

      So glad you enjoyed it, Lovera! It is an overwhelming blessing to experience this amazing trip, particularly in light of our family history. God is alive and still at work our country!

      Reply

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