Jackie Gingrich Cushman

However, my favorite part of the tour was the night tour of the monuments. It was bitter cold and windy. It was hard to keep warm, but the skyline of our capital city and the quotes illuminated by spotlights told our nation's stories from the viewpoint of the people who have shaped our nation.

"God who gave us life gave us liberty," read the inscription at the Jefferson Memorial. "Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness," was inscribed on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, "only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

The Lincoln Memorial is my favorite monument. It is large and imposing. From it, the great emancipator stares out past the Washington Monument, toward the Capitol, as though he is still watching over our nation's capital.

Engraved in the monument are both his Gettysburg address and his second inaugural address, which ends, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Words to remember: "God who gave us liberty ... only light can (drive out darkness), and "with malice towards none and charity towards all."

Words to live by, and to look at Washington anew.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.