Monday, February 22, 2010

by george, it's your birthday!

Today is George Washington's birthday.  Once upon a time (aka when I was a young girl) he got his own special day.  We had off from work and school, there were parades.  Nowadays, we have overlooked poor George, opting to (incorrectly) recognize all our presidents instead... the ubiquitous President's Day.  On the surface this sounds like a positive way to honor these men, however, I am not so sure that some of our presidents deserve that recognition.  Harsh, I know... but true. However, there have been some men who have served our country as President and truly do deserve the recognition and heartfelt thanks from us as a nation. George Washington leads the way.


I think George Washington may well have been our greatest President. He played key roles in both the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention. He saw the importance of establishing a strong central government and the responsibility of the Federal Government to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, [and] promote the general Welfare."


Washington showed extreme insight and judgement when he limited his time in office to just two terms and rejected attempts to make him king, making him the first figure in history to voluntarily relinquish power at that level. He was deeply cognizant of how his example would set a precedent for future generations.  Washington was a man of principle, courage and devotion.


Perhaps, the truest barometer of character is what others say about us.  Some thoughts about our country's Founding Father....



First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.... Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues.... Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Official eulogy of Washington, written by John Marshall
and delivered by Representative Richard Henry Lee, December 26, 1799


Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814


Wherever men love liberty, wherever they believe in patriotism, wherever they exalt high character, by universal consent they turn to the name of George Washington. No occasion could be conceived more worthy, more truly and comprehensively American, than that which is chosen to commemorate this divinely appointed captain.


Calvin Coolidge, address marking the 150th anniversary


of Washington's taking command of the Continental Army, July 3, 1925

So, Mr. Washington... happy birthday and thank you from a grateful nation.


3 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute! Thanks! There's a wonderful interpretation of George Washington portrayed in the HBO mini series "John Adams." Obviously, it's about John Adams, but the scenes with Washington, during the Revolutionary War and then presidential years, is quite amazing.

    He really was quite an extraordinary man! Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. I have been reading a lot about our Founding Fathers this year, and I have been so AMAZED at how incredible George Washington was. His wisdom and faith have been so neglected by our modern historians!

    Thanks for this good reminder. I'm stopping by from Bloggy Boot Camp... Looking forward to meeting you in Baltimore!

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  3. Yes, so many president's don't deserve to be honored.
    Perhaps the office itself may deserve the recognition and if so, a lot of that is because of Washington. I think they changed it because of Lincoln's being so close and they only wanted to have one. This may very well be due to the influence of big business not wanting to lose two days work from it's people. Those people have always had their hand where I don't think it belongs.

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