Thursday, February 22, 2007
But For George...
Today is George Washington’s birthday – the day for which President’s Day was originally designed to celebrate. As my political blog takes its name from a term which was originally attributed to Washington by a Heavenly Messenger, I thought it appropriate to take some time this morning to pay tribute to the Father of this great nation.
Most Americans know Washington for his heroic exploits in the Revolutionary War. The accounts of his daring Christmas Day attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton – appropriately portrayed in The Crossing – and his buoying up of the Continental Army’s spirits through the winter at Valley Forge are testaments to the character of the man whose devotion to country outweighed all else.
What is not often said of Washington is the fact he never really sought the power and office which he attained. He was often quoted as saying he would much rather spend his time cultivating his fields and home at Mount Vernon than sit as the President receiving kings and ministers from around the world. I took some time this President’s Day to visit George and Martha’s home and after sitting in the rocking chairs on the porch overlooking the Potomac River it was easy to understand why George would feel that way.
I came across an interesting video today that begs the question “What would the world be like but for George?” What if he had declined his country’s call and stayed on Mount Vernon as a private citizen? What if he hadn’t presided over this nation and the world’s first experiment in government of the people, by the people and for the people? Take a look for yourself:
Washington greatest gift to his country was his presiding over the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. His presence gave a sense of legitimacy to the proceedings through that sweltering summer. He sat in a chair with a sun carved into the seat back – a sun which Benjamin Franklin later declared to be a rising one – and he always believed the best days of this nation always laid before her.
George served two terms as America’s first President. As he left office, he gave what has come to be known as his “Farewell Address”. Since 1862, by tradition, the United States Senate calls on one of its members to read this address into the record on or near Washington’s Birthday. His last words to his country as her President are recorded as these:
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.Take some time today to reflect upon the great gift the original Son of the Republic gave to his nation, and what a better place the world is for America's being in it.
Here endeth the lesson.