Thousands of cars and pedestrians pass this monument each day without looking at the memorial to a Revolutionary War Patriot. To help bring attention to the man who is being commemorated, the Washington Post recently ran an article on the monument’s history. In 1980,local religious and political leaders dedicated a memorial to and a bust of Revolutionary War general John Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania. Before the Revolution, Muhlenberg, a Lutheran served as pastor to a congregation in Woodstock, Virginia. Famously on the eve of fighting in the Revolution, he preached a rousing patriotic “call to arms” sermon and at the conclusion, took off his vestments revealing a generals uniform. From that day, he became known as “the fighting parson.” Here is a link to the Washington Post article.
An able leader, Washington highly respected Muhlenberg and assigned him to critical combat roles in the defense of Philadelphia (1777) and at the Battle of Monmouth (1778). After the war, Muhlenberg became active in politics and eventually was elected to first US Congress from Pennsylvania.
Reflecting Muhlenberg’s three careers, the memorial commemorates his roles as clergy, soldier and political leader, with a bronze plaque describing his accomplishments in these three roles.
The statue sits in a park in front of a large Lutheran Church in a leafy section of Northwest Washington DC. However, the park is overgrown and the memorial is defaced. Shamefully, we are not respecting Muhlenberg’s contributions and sacrifices for our freedoms.