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Today is George Washington’s birthday; He is the man we should always honor, not “presidents”

Washington at the Constitional Convention
Washington at the Constitional Convention

Monday was not “Presidents Day”, celebrating all our past presidents, both good and bad. In fact, it never was.

Originally we celebrated the birthday of George Washington, the Father of our country, on February 22nd, his birthday. Then in 1968 our lovely Congress decided to devalue Washington’s memory by shifting the holiday to the third Monday of the month. The idea was it would give people a three-day weekend, and encourage commerce. What it really did was eliminate the memory of Washington entirely from the holiday.

And yet we mustn’t. Washington not only won the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, acting as general, but he took the lead in writing and establishing the Constitution when the original Articles of Confederation failed to work. Along the way he repeatedly and in no uncertain terms rejected calls for him to take over as king. He then put a final period on his life’s work by serving as the nation’s first president, and most important, refusing to serve more than two terms. He stepped down, and demanded the nation elect a new leader, forcing through what was then a truly unprecedented thing — the peaceful transition of power from one leader to another.

His final public act of importance was his farewell speech upon leaving the office of the presidency, where he made two points for the future that sadly we appear to have decided to forget.

First, we must not let our country be torn apart by factional fighting. We can disagree, but Washington demanded that we always put the nation first in any disagreement.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

The Constitution, Washington's gift to all future generations
The Constitution, Washington’s gift to all future generations

Second, and even more fundamental, Washington warned that a free people and self-government could not succeed without including within each person a strong moral commitment, based on the known religions of western civilization.

Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

He was not advocating a state religion. He was demanding that each citizen make the conscious choice to include religion in his life, in order to better inform his or her decisions relating to politics and law.

When I was in the first grade in elementary school, I clearly remember my teacher, Mrs. White, describing Washington’s Farewell Speech and explaining very careful to our young minds the importance of these very ideas, the evils of factionalism and the importance of personal moral commitment, based on the known established religions. She, an ordinary person, understood them. She wanted to inculcate them into the next generation, for their own benefit.

These were the beliefs that moved Washington, and formed the foundation of his life, his work, and the Constitution he left us. She understood that we must not forget the man, for if we do, we will certainly next forget those same principles, and our free nation will fail.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Directly related:

    “Donald J. Trump is the closest thing that America has or has had to a Founding Father, certainly in modern times. Set aside George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Trump has been extremely successful in business, is a visionary and strong natural leader and is under extreme attack by his own government where his wealth, freedom and possibly his life is at risk. Just like the Founding Fathers.

    Thats right, Donald J. Trump, 100%. ”

  • F

    Very sadly, in this day and age, we have very few teachers like Mrs. White.

  • Andi

    They sure knew how to write in those days!

    Minor edit in last paragraph: “and the Constitution he left us”

  • Richard M

    Some Founding Fathers were more important than others. But only one was the “necessary man.” Without George Washington, there is no United States. Certainly nothing like the United States we ended up with. And he was *necessary* at multiple points.

    So he is most definitely worth honoring.

  • Col Beausabre

    Don’t forget to wish Hilary Clinton happy Presidents’ Day

  • Milt

    There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that George Washington had a vision of three great challenges to this country.

    (For more along these lines, see Manly P. Hall’s classic )

    Whether literally true or not, the story would certainly seem to be in keeping with the trajectory of our national history, and it is easy enough to interpret the third Great Challenge as the cultural civil war in which we are now engaged. By any measure, the agenda of the “progressive,” Jacobin left presents every bit as much of a challenge to the continued existence of our country / culture / civilization as anything that the Axis Powers, or the Soviet Union ever contemplated with respect to deciding its fate. Moreover, they are possessed with an inconsolable hatred for our traditional values and ways of life* that eclipses everything that the Nazis or the Communists could summon up, even as they sought to defeat America and its Allies on the battlefield.

    *See, for example, the new post, Dark and the Light on

    Deconstructing Identity Politics

    As a means of understanding the origins and methods of the radical left’s unquenchable malice toward our society — along with some recommended countermeasures — I (again) highly recommend reading Prof. Yascha Mounk’s The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time.

    Of everything that has come out of the ongoing culture wars, I cannot think of anything that comes close to Prof. Mounk’ scholarly (and passionate) deconstruction of identity politics and the woke agenda for America. As he proudly admits, the author is a classic liberal academic, but he has looked directly into the dark heart of identity politics (or the “identity synthesis” as he terms it), and he is profoundly disturbed by what he has found.

    Quoting from one of the book’s reviews:

    “America’s academic, cultural, and political institutions went insane beginning around 2014, and
    I’ve been trying to figure out why ever since. In the Identity Trap, Yascha Mounk explains how
    a few powerfully bad ideas, propelled through institutions by people with good intentions, are
    causing systematic dysfunction and dangerous polarization. This is among the most insightful
    and important books written in the last decade on American democracy and its current torments,
    because it shows us [if we take it] a way out of the trap.”

    Jonathan Haidt

    Today, thinking about George Washington, we are at the equivalent of his time of troubles at Valley Forge, only in this instance the enemy is within our gates, sniping at us from every institution, and they are waging a very different kind of war to extinguish human freedom and dignity on our shores. Read, know your enemy, and prepare to do battle along the lines that Prof. Mounk suggests.

  • Andi

    It’s ironic that this holiday, which started out as George Washington’s Birthday (although when he was born, the calendar read “February 11, 1731”), can now never occur on his actual birthday.

  • markedup2

    Leaving aside my issues with prophecy in general (the Dune series captures them nicely; perhaps it engendered them), the problem with signs, portents, and other harbingers is that one must interpret them. It’s _always_ easy after-the-fact. It’s not so easy before then.

    I’m not as troubled(?) by President’s Day as our host. Just celebrate them in order and I doubt very many people will get past Washington.

  • pzatchok

    Because of our heritage coming from nations with royalty there was a large movement to make George a king.
    When he essentially abdicated there was even a call to install a son of his as the new King but because of a random medical problem George could not have any children.
    Martha Washington had children by a previous marriage but its theorized that George was infertile because of a bought of smallpox as a child or a case of tuberculous just before he married.

    Without a male son all those arguments fell away and left a peaceful election for someone new to be selected.

    By pure chance Washington became the perfect candidate to bring in a new age.

  • Col Beausabre

    Back on July 4, 1976, I was standing in formation with the rest of 20,000 men and women of the Ninth Infantry Division and its attached units at Fort Lewis when a general order was read out to us by the Division Adjutant General

    “Headquarters, Department of the Army
    Washington, District of Columbia

    The following individual is promoted in the Army of the United Stares

    Washington, George Serial Number 000-00-0001

    To the rank of General of the Armies of the United States of America

    Date of rank, 4 July, 1776”

    As part of the Bicentenial, Congress had passed an act promoting him from the highest rank he achieved in life – Lieutenant General – past the five men – Marshall, Arnold, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Bradley who became Generals of the Army and the three, Grant, Sherman and Pershing, who advanced to the rank of General of the Armies, to become the senior ranking member of the US Army.


  • sippin_bourbon

    Col B

    And this started the debate about the Six Star General. I have even heard of it coming up as a board question.

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