Tuesday, February 19, 2013

By George!


Happy President’s Day, everyone.  Were you one of the lucky ones who got to enjoy a three-day weekend?  Not me.  Our kids’ schools were closed today, but apparently TPTB think the grown-ups don’t need to set aside a day to celebrate our nation’s first president.  There are a lot of reasons that seems a little strange to me, but since I’m sort of opposed to the idea of “President’s Day” anyway—and, in many ways, arbitrary Monday holidays in general—I guess it’s okay that I still had to go to school. 

Washington 2-19-13


  Anyway, whether you were working, attending school, or maybe out taking advantage of huge savings at some sale or another, I hope you took a second or two to give a thought to George Washington and be grateful for what he helped to create.

  One of the interesting things I’ve realized as I’ve grown older, and especially these last few months I’ve been taking classes, is that I’m actually pretty impressed with our Founding Fathers.  Not that they were perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they seemed to get a lot of things right, and gave us a pretty good foundation from which to grow and succeed.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Of course, one of the other things I think is that because they got so much right, sometimes their ideas are given a little too much credit and taken a little too literally.   I mean, I think to expect that everything they thought and believed can—or should—be carried forward hundreds of years is a bit extreme.  There’s absolutely no way they could have envisioned the life we live today, so to expect their sensibilities to prepare us for all manner of things now is asking too much of them.  My guess would be if we could find some way to travel back in time and speak with President Washington and his contemporaries, they would tell us that they hoped we would learn from them, but not be afraid to grow beyond what they could ever imagine.  I think the greatest gift of thanks we could give them would be to learn from their lessons without being slaves to outdated ideas; to continue to forge a nation of principle and determination while creating a history our descendants will look upon proudly.  Instead, too many times, we cling to words written centuries ago, even though they damage the citizens of our world today, and threaten the very peace and prosperity they were intended to protect.  I can’t believe that’s what George would have wanted.

Those are my wandering thoughts for today; I will leave you with a few thoughts from the man himself:

America ... has ever had, and I trust she ever will have, my honest exertions to promote her interest. I cannot hope that my services have been the best; but my heart tells me they have been the best that I could render.

Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.

Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.