George Washington set the standard for presidents
Despite the colloquialization of the holiday to Presidents Day, today officially remains Washington’s Birthday. Thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, however, the day we honor the father of his country and first president will never actually fall on his birthday, Feb. 22.
Perhaps, as a result, the significance of today is likely no more than a footnote on your calendar. But there was a time when Americans stopped everything to honor our first president.
There were parades and bunting and, rather than just another Monday off, there was an importance to it all.
Like many others of his time, Washington risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to embark on the noble crusade conceived in liberty that formed this great nation. First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he led revolutionary armies against an unstoppable tyrant — and won.
Victorious, he was unanimously handed the reins of power. And then, when he was done, he gave them back.
While not a great orator or philosopher, like many of his contemporaries, Washington perhaps projected a greater asset: character. He declined the trappings of a king, consenting to the downright common title of “Mr. President” over more regal monikers offered him.
Having served two terms, he peacefully handed the reins of power to his successor and retired to private life.
This peaceful transfer of power and brief, voluntary tenure was revolutionary in its humility, and served as an example for future presidents. Our present-day leaders would do well to reject their authoritarian and imperialistic designs and, instead, emulate this modesty and respect for the limited nature of our government.
Reprinted from the Orange County Register
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