Why Presidents?

Mount Rushmore

The History Files 2.21.22

It has been so since February of 1789, when George Washington was elected the very first President of the United States of America. Elected on February 4, and sworn in on April 30, he had been elected as prescribed by the newly fashioned Constitution.

Washington’s inaguration in NY

This Constitution, which was the upgrade to the previous Articles of Confederation that “governed” this baby nation, established three separate, but equal branches of government, which would oversee our nation- the Judical, the Legislative, and the Executive branch, that would be headed by one, “Executive, a President”.

George Washington, born February 22, 1732, was elected in the first free election of any democratic nation. Having served first as a British subject in the army that stood within this fledgling nation, then after disenchantment with Britian, as the leader of the Continental Army in the ensuing American Revolution.

He had proved a strong and fearless leader during the French and Indian War, where it is reported that he dodged bullets and had horses shot out from under him. Having a reputation for coolness under fire and self discipline, his men loved and respected him and willing followed him. He was even taken prisoner by the French at one time. And although in his wartime efforts he led nearly as many loosing battles as he won, he stood out as an exemplary officer.

It is of no wonder then, that when the electors voted for president in 1789, he was the overwhelming selection.

He was very aware, as the first president of setting precedents for future presidents. He tried to unify the politicians and expressed hatred for the political parties of the day. He often argued with others about what image the president should maintain, but held to his firm conviction that he should display dignity and humility.

He served our country for two terms (8 years) and then retired to his beloved Mount Vernon, VA, where he once again enjoyed rural life and even started a whisky distillery. It was there that he died on December 14, 1799.

His home, Mount Vernon
His bedroom at Mount Vernon, where he died

It was the Sixth Congress that commissioned a eulogy to remember him as –

“First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen.”

George Washingtion’s eulogy

In 1800, celebrating Washington’s birthday each year was a way to remember him and by 1879 it had become law, but only in D.C. Then, in 1885 it expanded to the whole country. Washington’s birthday was added to Christmas, New Year’s Day, July 4 and Thanksgiving as federal holidays. But it was the first to honor the life of an individual.

Then along came the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” which was passed in 1968. This act of Congress shifted Washington’s birthday to President’s Day and more Monday holidays. The act sought to encourage workers and reduce absenteeism while boosting retail sales.

It added Lincoln’s 2/12 birthday to the Monday remembrance, and both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays were remembered the third Monday in February. It then became President’s Day.

That act also shifted Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Verterans Day to Monday’s. Veterans day took lots of criticism in the move and was eventually moved back to 11.11 for it’s celebration of our veterans.

Here’s why honoring President’s Day should matter to you.

Whether or not you hang a flag, or celebrate in some patriotic way is not the point. (to me, anyway) There are times when citizens of our great nation must show their respect for the nation and the ones who have paved the way for our greatness by their foresight, through their sacrifices, commitment, and courage. It is the duty of we, the people.

We cannot only take from this nation, it is our responsibility to give back, honor, respect, gratitude, and show patriotism. Whether or not we agree with all of it’s issues, as American’s we choose to salute the flag and those that gave of their sacred honor to defend it. Those like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

May ALL of our presidents receive the honor, dignity and esteem they deserve, simply by virture of the office they hold (or held). They are not just citizens, they are presidents of these United States.

Engage in partiotism,

Debbie

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