The first Inaugural Address ever in our country is of course George Washington’s first Address to congress after being elected and sworn in as President of the United States.
It became one of our great civic rituals that is part of the pomp and circumstance in the transfer of power from one President to the next.
Washington’s 1st inaugural is important (at least to me) because he was inherently honest. At the beginning of his address he admits to the anxiety that being elected President had caused him and how he misses his retirement.
In the 2nd paragraph of his speech he says “it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being” that he not only bless him but the new nation that had been established.
He continues throughout the speech to embrace the duty he feels to the American people and the new nation, to accept the responsibility of the office and to again ask God to guide and preserve the freedoms and liberties of the people.
George had a very good grasp on the enormity of the position he was in. He was honest about his fears, his anxiety and his gratitude. He was also wise enough to lay his anxiety at the feet of God to guide him on that 1st Presidential journey.
The first Inaugural set a precedent for other Presidents to follow. George was not worried about invoking the assistance of God or worried about offending anyone by his beliefs.
George Washington also set another precedent as he was sworn in by adding four words to the end of the oath, he said: “so help me God.” Every President after President Washington has uttered those same words.
Why then do so many Americans find the mention of God so offensive? Why in our modern times is Christianity under attack?
Neither George Washington nor any of the founding fathers stated or forced citizens to prescribe to their beliefs but simply invoked the blessings of their God upon this nation. As many have done after them and up to now we are still receiving those blessings.
Let us remember that our strength and our preserverance comes to us from a higher power: One Nation Under God.