Today is George Washington‘s birthday. He’s pretty big deal in the ole U S of A. Some of you may remember, that we used to celebrate both Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays as separate days. But not these days. The holiday is now called PRESIDENTS DAY. It’s a Federal Holiday, to be sure, but its purpose nowadays is set to honor the office of the Presidency and all Presidents.
But, today, I prefer to recall Washingon’s birthday. There’s another thing I also recall. Do you remember tracing George Washington’s profile (and Lincoln’s) in elementary school? Remember the projector on the wall? We’d trace the faces of both of those men and proudly tote them home to share with all. Well, I guess I am dating myself. But I truly thought that was cool. Many, many homes in America displayed the profiles of those two Presidents on their walls (usually over or near the fireplace). But these days, that’s a pretty rare sight.
If you don’t know much about the man, he was the General of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and then became our nation’s very first President. He was easily re-elected, serving two terms, before returning to his beloved Mount Vernon residence.
I had the privilege of visiting his home some years back. Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten that both he and his wife Martha had owned slaves. But Washington freed those that belonged to him upon his death. (I was surprised when I later learned that another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, never did.) As I stepped into the dining room through an outside door, the guide crossed the room to another door exactly opposite our entry. He opened it slowly only to reveal the most stunning view of the river below. It was breathtaking. Talk about a room with a view! Moving out onto the wooden porch, we admired the sweeping panorama.
Apparently, folks from miles around would just appear on The Washingtons’ doorstep and stay for days. As if their home was a Bed and Breakfast with a neon sign that said, “Welcome. Eat, stay for free.” I can’t believe people would do that, but, oddly enough, they did. What a gracious pair!
When we entered his office, it was his personal luggage, or trunk, that he carried with him wherever he went during his war days, that struck me. We can’t imagine hauling all over creation a carved wooden box that holds our necessities and dearest posessions. These days, everything has wheels and can be pulled handily behind us. Or, we just Fed Ex it on ahead.
Upon entering his bedroom, where he took his last breath, I inadvertently held mine. It was truly an experience I value to this day.
With that, here’s to remembering a great man who helped to get it all started. Thank you, Mr. President. And a very Happy Birthday.
Just my thoughts,