Today is a good day to reflect on the men this holiday is devoted to- Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. They were both indispensable to the founding and the saving of the country from internal and external enemies.
Much is known about Abraham Lincoln's quiet determination in steering the country back on course and helping his countrymen make the right moral choice on the scourge of slavery. His letters are all well preserved and his speeches and philosophy are part of the national psyche.
Less however is known about George Washington who burned his letters and writings before his death and left little more for the nation's written record than his journal on the daily temperature and rainfall that he kept for his entire life.
There were many possible motivations people assign to Washington's purposeful anonymity- possible fear of reprisal from Britain on his family and friends if the revolution failed or the country didn't sustain itself, wanting to let Americans decide for themselves what America is or should be etc.
One of the greatest unknowns is why George Washington turned down a ruler for life position and the chance to be a founding of an aristocracy that would have lasted for the entire history of the nation that he founded.
The aristocracy question is interesting to me especially, since my family on my father's side is distantly related to George Washington.
I was going through some old papers on our family history the other day and came across an article my Grandmother cut out called 'West Virginia Royalty' or something like that. In it- the journalist interviews a woman in West Virginia who's distantly related to the Washingtons and talks about how different life would be for her had Washington accepted the sword from his fellow generals and started a familial empire.
Instead of working for a living like some sucker, I could be kicking back and enjoying a guaranteed income from the family estate like one of the Julians or Claudians in the Roman empire.
Oh well- I guess some choices he made are better for the country and not for me. Anyway- Happy Birthday President Washington and Lincoln!