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George Washington: Spiritual overtones of first president's inaugural have impact 200 years later

I have said many times that I think we need more real heroes for our children to emulate. In this day and age, so many of the sports stars and music stars who are the "heroes" for the children of the world lead lives so diabolically different than that espoused by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is why it gives me such pleasure to help bring to the forefront a real hero, a man who just might be counted among the greatest heroes of all time - the first president of these great United States of America - Gen. George Washington.Even as a lad, his character and integrity were unquestioned. The spiritual side of his nature, which only grew as he matured, was clearly visible in his development when he was still just a boy. When he was 14 years of age he transcribed a set of moral precepts, which he called "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior."

Among the many choice pieces of wisdom he put into his paper on common courtesy and table etiquette, etc., we find these last three most inspiring for a lad of 14, especially in 1745:

  • "When you speak of God or His attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence. Honour and obey your natural parents although they be poor."
  • "Let your recreations be manful, not sinful."
  • "Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

History gives a clear picture of what took place at this special time for George Washington. Truly, the hand of the Lord can be seen as we trace the happenings of that first inaugural event.

As a member of the committee established by the Church to celebrate the signing of the Constitution of this great land, I am proud to be among those who pay honor to George Washington on the 200th anniversary of his inauguration to the presidency of the United States. It is richly deserved.

Elder L. Tom Perry is chairman of the Church's Constitutional Bicentennial Committee, which includes Elders Robert L. Backman and Hugh W. Pinnock, both of the Presidency of the Seventy.