By David Harmer
Today is the birthday of General George Washington, who, through sheer strength of character, held the underfunded, undersupplied, underequipped, ragtag Continental Army together through six and a half long, lonely, perilous years of fighting, until, against all odds, the Revolutionary War was won and America’s independence achieved.
Among our nation’s founders—a constellation of political talent never seen before or since—Washington was the one indispensable man, THE founding father.
In a nation as bitterly divided by partisan passions as ours is now, it’s hard to imagine anyone winning any office unanimously, let alone the highest office in the land. But Washington did … and did so again … and again … and yet again.
1. He was unanimously elected by the Continental Congress as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
2. He was unanimously elected by the Constitutional Convention as its president.
3. He was unanimously elected as the first President of the United States.
4. He was unanimously re-elected as President of the United States.
Even more remarkably, he voluntarily relinquished each office, humbly returning to life as a private citizen.
“The genius of George Washington,” wrote Michael and Jana Novak, “was to shape himself to become a man of high integrity and sober reserve, a man of honor and internal fortitude, who could be trusted by all Americans, of all backgrounds. It was as if he knew that he might one day have to be the only man in the whole country of whom it could be said that everybody trusted him.”
Upon Washington’s death, the United States Senate declared: “Let his countrymen … teach their children never to forget that the fruit of his labors and his example are their inheritance.”
That’s why it’s vital that young citizens learn American history . . . and especially learn about our first president. For the Revolutionary generation, George Washington was first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. That he remain so for the rising generation is our challenge and our ambition.
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