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Editorial: Current crop in Washington could take page out of history

Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 4:59 PM

Today is George Washington’s real birthday.

The “Father of our Country,” George Washington, was born on this day in 1732 at Pope’s Creek, Va.

The federal government holiday, “Washington’s Birthday,” was on Feb. 18, as a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 to give employees three days off. Thus, the holiday is always on the third Monday of February, which never falls on the 22nd.

There was an effort at the time to rename the holiday “Presidents Day” to honor Abraham Lincoln, born Feb. 12, 1809, and all presidents, but that effort failed and the name has remained the same since it first became a national holiday in 1885.

To add to the confusion, advertisers have perpetuated the myth that the name of the national holiday is Presidents Day, which has been picked up by much of the news media as well.

But we believe George Washington deserves to be recognized on his actual birthday. His steadfastness during the American Revolution was largely responsible for our independence, and his wise leadership as our first president was chiefly responsible for establishing the United States as a stable, long-lasting constitutional republic.

Washington’s Birthday was celebrated by the American people as a national holiday by public acclaim long before the federal government officially recognized it as a holiday in order to give employees a day off.

If you’ve ever read about the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas in 1836, it is noted the Texans were having a celebration the night before the siege started. The Texan colonists were celebrating Washington’s Birthday on Feb. 22. The siege of the Alamo began Feb. 23 and lasted 13 days.

Some historians have criticized Washington for losing so many battles during the American Revolution. But considering the fact that he had to create the U.S. Army out of mostly raw recruits with little military experience, it is amazing he was able to win as many battles as he did against the largest, best-equipped and best-led army in the world at the time — the British Army. When others, called “sunshine patriots” by Thomas Paine, were ready to give up, it was Washington who was able to always keep an army in the field and the revolution going. Most importantly, Washington and his men, with help from the French, won the war and our independence.

After the war, Washington returned home to Mount Vernon and was content to be a farmer for the rest of his life. But when the new nation was beset with problems and was becoming unstable, and some thought unworkable, the people once again called upon him to save the nation, this time as the first U.S. president.

As president, he set many precedents that have served the nation well. He strictly governed by the new Constitution, ratified in 1789, and was admired for his honesty, and devotion to God and country. He brought order out of disorder and after two terms in office, voluntarily stepped down from office and returned again to Mount Vernon. He died there Dec. 14, 1799.

Let us hope and pray that the current politicians running the government in Washington, D.C. will begin governing more like George Washington by putting the love of country and respect for the Constitution ahead of ideology and party politics.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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