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Washington and Lincoln

I know I’m a fussbudget, but I liked it back in the dark ages when both President’s birthday’s were celebrated in February, not as it is today, blurring them together on “President’s Day,” which by the way is actually Washington’s birthday.

Winter it long and cold, and February is at the heart of it. Having a couple of days off was good. Now there’s only one. Not good. However as important as the days off, what about considering the two presidents and their respective successes.

Washington, the father of our country, was 6’2” tall, a giant in those days. He also had a presence that enabled him to guide many of the founding documents. His popularity was such that his contemporaries wanted him to be King. Quite a guy, our George.

Lincoln saved the union Washington founded. At 6’4” – our tallest President –  he was head and shoulders over the men in his era. Elected during a time that held a schism in the land, he understood that behind that division was an abhorrence, and he sat out to rid the country of it. His most famous speech, ad libbed from the back of an envelope, is one every school child in my day memorized. Four Score and Seven years ago… Quite a guy, our Abe.

Though each of these leaders had his faults, the qualities that each used to lead his country far outweighed them. It is appropriate that we learn about them and through that, come to respect just what they did as Presidents.

Legends grew around them, from George tossing a coin across a local creek, to Abe’s honesty, and his log cabin beginnings. George was a surveyor in his early days, and Abe learned law from books read by candle light. Neither man was particularly handsome, with Abe’s craggy face and George’s false teeth, but they had an inner strength. A strength that saw them through some of the most difficult times in our country’s history.

I don’t know what kids today learn about George and Abe, but I hope on this holiday that they take a few moments between hot dogs and games, to think about just what greatness like that shown by these two patriots means to each of us today.

JVH

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