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WASHINGTON MONUMENT SETBACKS


In the pursuit of our dreams, there are often setbacks along the way.


In 1836, the fledgling Washington National Monument Society announced that they had chosen Robert Mills' plans for the construction of a monument to our nation's first president. Mills had slaved for months over the elaborate drawings, and he had dared to dream big -- a granite obelisk soaring 555 feet high, slated to be the tallest structure in the world.


But the funds didn't come in as fast as the society had hoped. Construction didn't start until a full twelve years later. Then the engineers discovered that the ground at the site was too soft to support the weight of such a huge monument, so they had to start over farther north.


Work proceeded smoothly for six years, and major figures began donating marble to the project. But in 1854, when Pope Pius IX donated a marble block from the Temple of Concord, a group of saboteurs stole the block and destroyed it. The incident shocked the public, and donations nearly stopped.


Then members of the Know-Nothing political party broke into the society's offices and actually seized possession. Vandals continued to deface the monument, and construction finally stopped dead in 1855.


What remained of Mills's soaring dream was a squat, ugly, 150-foot stump. Robert Mills died that year.


But his vision would not die. 25 years after his death, 50 years after Mills' dream began, work resumed. Four years later a cast-aluminum cap was placed over the granite tip. Today Mills' monument stands as the tallest masonry structure in the world, with over a million visitors every year coming to see the realization of his dream.


(Kevin A. Miller, Secrets of Staying Power, Word, 1988. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Disappointed Dreamer, 8/20/2011)

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