Reflections on President’s Day

“First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen.” That’s George who, as our first president, set the tone and the bar for the Office of the Presidency. On and about President’s Day, it’s worth reflecting on George Washington’s historic legacy, eulogized above by his friend Henry A. Lee.  Washington’s character and demeanor were such that following his two terms as President, he opted to walk behind his successor at the inauguration of President John Adams, signaling to all that the Office of the President of the United States belonged to the American people and its peaceful transfer of power was demonstrated.  George Washington’s leadership style was evident in his many quotable moments.  This is one of my favorites: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”

The jury may still be out as to whether George Washington ever chopped down his father’s cherry tree, confessing “I cannot tell a lie.”  This statement…true or false…forever marks the George Washington narrative…not because of its veracity, but because mothers all over the country, including my own, used this story to teach their children the proper standards of integrity.

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