I am a fan of George Washington. We would, basically, not have the nation we do without him and the things that he did. In a recent column, Phil Kadner captured the single reason Washington deserves even more accolades than we give him. A bitterly ambitious man, young George wanted to be rich, famous, and be all powerful. Instead, for most of his life, even after being named as the commander of the failing Continental Army, he was an abject failure. Then, on December 25, 1776, he crossed the Delaware River.
Until then he was treated like dirt.
Then he pulled off a bloody miracle.
Kadner captures the very reason I admire Washington more than any other person in history.
“…After the fighting had ended and before the peace was signed, King George III of England asked an acquaintance whether Washington would remain in charge of the army or become the new nation’s monarch. When told Washington’s aim was to simply give up his power and return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
He resigned in Annapolis, Maryland, and immediately set out for home. For the first time in eight years Washington returned to Mount Vernon for Christmas. It would be six years before he was elected the nation’s first president and once again called away from home.
In the history of the world there are a multitude of heroic military leaders who have led successful revolts against oppressors only to seize power themselves, becoming dictators and despots.
Put simply, this government of the people and by the people exists only because George Washington voluntarily gave up his power, first as the military leader and later as its chief of state.
Yet, there is no national holiday marking the occasion. No fireworks light the skies. The calendar does not even designate Dec. 23 as a day to fly the flag…
That’s why I believe Dec. 23 needs to be recognized, remembered and cherished as the day a man walked away from absolute power.
On his last day in uniform, Washington did not proclaim himself the greatest military commander in history or trumpet his victories. Instead, he recalled how inadequate he felt when he was named to lead the troops.
He tied this prize in a red, white and blue ribbon and presented it as a Christmas gift to all who would live in this nation for centuries to come. And then he mounted his horse and rode home…”
He walked away from absolute power.