This is a painting Our President loves; it’s called “A Charge to Keep,” and GW Bush even used that as the title for his autobiography.
Here’s what Bush himself says about the picture.
I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.
Bush got it wrong. The painting has been traced back to its source, and it turns out it doesn’t portray a Methodist missionary spreading the word on the Texas frontier…it’s something far more appropriate.
Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”
I laughed and laughed. It epitomizes their mission, alright.