I’m ticked off that we have to remember Presidents Washington & Lincoln in the same breath as Carter, Obama, Buchanan & Polk. Let’s never forget that we are SUPPOSED to mark today as Washington’s Birthday. And let’s learn something while we are at it, eh? (via UnionLeader.com)
Today is not Presidents’ Day. The holiday’s official title is George Washington’s Birthday. It is a day for celebrating the Father of our Country, whose greatness is often forgotten.
Few Americans know that George Washington never received more than elementary-level schooling. But he was a whiz at math, and his sharp mind and appetite for adventure led him to surveying, then to the Army.
Incredibly, in his first military adventure, the totally untrained soldier led an attack on a French force near the Ohio River, killing a French ambassador. Thus began the French and Indian War. Washington was captured and signed a statement, written in French, admitting to what were basically war crimes. In his next battle, Washington advised Gen. Edward Braddock to avoid traditional battle lines in an open field. Braddock ignored him, and the Indians slaughtered the British, killing Braddock. London blamed the colonials, including Washington.
Today, a young soldier’s career probably would be over — if he ever got into the Army with such little education to begin with. Washington soldiered on, eventually leading a small force of mostly militiamen to victory over the greatest military power the world had ever seen.
In 1788, a popular song in the new United States of America was “Great Washington shall rule the land.” But Washington wanted nothing of it. He was nearly broke and needed to restore his farm to profitability. But without campaigning for the job, he was unanimously elected President. He wrote of the results: “My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution … .”
On his ride to New York City, then the capital, he was serenaded by citizens singing, “Welcome, mighty chief!” Had he sought them, dictatorial powers were his for the taking. But on his inauguration, he wore a plain brown suit fitting of an average American, the first step in his plan to establish that Presidents were citizen executives, nothing more.
“As the first of everything in our situation will serve to establish a precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles,” he wrote to James Madison. Following his principles, he spent the next eight years retiring the national debt, avoiding foreign entanglements and trying to ensure the stability of the young national government.
When he retired, George Washington was reviled by a large portion of the citizens who owed him their freedom. To avoid war, he had accepted a humiliating treaty with Britain. The newly formed opposition press brutally attacked and mocked him. But Washington never responded. He let the press and the people deride him as he rode home to Mount Vernon, where he died two years later.
Today, George Washington is the dour old man on the dollar bill. In his time, he was a colossus, the general who risked everything to defeat an empire, only to reject his own crown and retire to his farm after ensuring that no one would have the power he refused to take for himself. We owe him everything. Let us remember that, if not every day, at least on this one.
The American liberal wants us to forget about Washington. He stood for individual freedom and liberty and the power of the people to overthrow tyranny. They want to marginalize him and give him the “Alinsky Treatment.”
Not on my watch.