During college (in 2003), I did a “semester abroad” with the American Studies Program in Washington, D.C. The idea of the program was to teach integration of faith & politics, while each student had an internship at various offices around DC. We lived in a dorm on 8th Street NE, had to walk or ride public transportation to our internships, and attend classes at the program.
Not everyone had great experiences at their internship, but mine turned out to be awesome! I worked at the Department of Labor, in an initiative started by President George W. Bush. It was called the Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, and was located down the hall from the Office of the Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao. (To give you more context for who she is, her husband is Mitch McConnell, the current Senate majority leader.) I did lots of “intern” tasks, but those in my office also gave me plenty of opportunities to experience exciting events. In particular, we had a conference in L.A., in which President Bush was going to speak. I was able to fly out there, be at the conference, and even shake his hand! Our word exchange was:
Me: “Thanks for all you do!”
President Bush: “Thanks for coming!”
And he moved along down the line. I took lots of pictures but I was so excited that they all turned out blurry and of course, I don’t have one taken with him.
I met a lot of interesting, powerful people in that time. During the summer, I stayed on as a paid intern, earning $11.86/hour. That was a lot of money to me! I learned SO much about government, our country, laws, bureaucracy, honor, and leadership. This was only a year and a half after 9/11, so love of our country was strong. Almost everyone dressed business formal and had high regard for President Bush.
Former President Reagan died that summer, and the streets were covered with people as his funeral processional came through the city for his body to lie in state at the Capitol. It was overwhelming to watch the horse-drawn coffin go by, his boots facing backwards on the horse. The deafening sound of the 21 jet flyover salute brought tears because they are a symbol of the highest honor. This was also a reminder that we live in the greatest nation in the world.
Solidified in My Mind
Some of my time in DC is a bit fuzzy (I’ll blame 3 pregnancies!). But, there were several things solidified in my mind that are essentially my point of writing this post.
- I love the United States of America. Deep within my soul. I wasn’t even born here since my parents were missionaries at that time. Yet, my love for this country is generational. I had 2 grandparents serve in WWII. My parents always taught me to love this country. And it has stuck!
- We must care what is going on in Washington. Somehow, even with information available in a second because of technology, we as citizens have become ignorant to what is actually happening in our nation’s capital. We have allowed the government to grow & gain more power. And many of us want to ignore what is happening because it’s too complicated. Our perfect little bubble doesn’t need to know what is happening in that city far away. It’s like assuming our kids will turn out fine if we don’t discipline them. Is it fun to discipline? Of course not! But otherwise, the behavior gets away from us and before you know it, it’s too late to change. We absolutely cannot ignore politics for the same reason!
- America can be a beacon of light to the world. I don’t know why it became acceptable to apologize for our country or to have a “roll your eyes” attitude about us. We are absolutely like no other nation before us! We have incredible rights, freedom, and power as citizens! Our strengths enable us to be an advocate for the oppressed in other countries. When we as a nation are strong, people around the world are strengthened. When we are strong, we can fight for those who cannot fight. And in regards to faith?? This absolutely translates to being a light for the gospel and bringing hope to others.
- The Second Amendment is crucial. Do you know why we have the right to bear arms, essentially, own a gun? Because our Constitution gives us that right. We have the right to defend ourselves against our government, should that need ever arise. If that right is taken away, we no longer have a democracy, we have a socialist or communist government. We the citizens, are to direct the government. If the government gains too much power, our freedoms are taken away.
- Faith and politics go hand in hand. America has been a “Christian” nation from the beginning. I know there are plenty of examples of this not being lived out correctly. But I know if we don’t have a government that supports Christianity, upholds the rights of the Christians, and keeps traditions of “Under God,” or scripture written on public buildings, or allowing the Bible to be read wherever one chooses, we will begin to disintegrate. We must have a government that upholds the cause of the Christians, keeping the freedoms we have been given.
- It’s time to call a spade a spade. For far too long, we have tiptoed around not hurting people’s feelings or being too harsh. But if there is evil, corruption, injustice, we have to call it that. As believers, there is certainly a kind, loving way of addressing people and situations. But in regards to our government and what we are going to allow to change, we need to rise up and be strong. We do this not to be correct, but to uphold the cause of injustice and the oppressed.
I am excited about this time in history. I keep wishing I could move to Washington and be a part of the change that I believe is about to take place. But since I don’t have a job offer, I’m going to stay vigilant, fighting for the love of our country, and for those who look to us as a symbol of hope!