Perhaps, it’s because as a boy, I loved the musical 1776, I long ago became a fan of John Adams and appreciated his accomplishments before David McCullough‘s biography climbed the bestseller charts and alerted many Americans to the greatness of the short-tempered man from Massachusetts. And only recently did I truly appreciate the greatness of his predecessor in the White House, the man whose greatness, in days of yore, was a staple of a public school education in these United States. I kind of got my education in the Founders backwards.
It seems that, as Bruce said, “The American liberal wants us to forget about Washington.” They tell us he was a mere place holder in the White House and that during the Revolutionary War, he lost more battles than he won. In so doing, they ignore how much he did as President to secure the survival of this fledgling nation.
While they are indeed right that as general, he did lose more battles than he won. He learned how to manage defeat so as to prevent those battlefield losses from becoming military catastrophes, inspiring his troops–and his fellow Americans then and now–by example, showing us how to face the vicissitudes of life for we all must face defeats and setbacks from time to time.
George Washington never gave up in situations where we could understand even the strongest of men turning tail. And that is why the Crossing of the Delaware and Valley Forge were so important. In succeeding winters, when it seemed all was lost, he held his troops together so they might survive to fight in the spring, well, in the first case, so they might first fight in dead of winter.
Thanks to Bruce for reminding us who we honor today. Hopefully one week hence on the real anniversary of his birth, I’ll offer a more comprehensive testimonial, but for now let us remember this great man for his resilience, that he fought on when all seemed lost.