Monday, February 21, 2011

Contrasting Presidents

Today is Presidents Day. This means that mattresses are discounted. That, and Federal employees get the day off. Hey, how 'bout that? [/sarcasm]

But February 21st used to mean something. It was the celebration of George Washington's birthday. It was Nixon (figures!) who combined GW's birthday with Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which falls just 9 days prior, to form Presidents Day.

It's a safe bet that no one born after 1980 has the remotest clue as to what Presidents Day is. That is, aside from the mattress sales.

Nixon did more than make two holidays into one when he combined Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. He obscured what the two men meant to this nation at the crossroads of history at which they stood.

Washington: first in war, first in peace, and last in the National League. Okay, that's a lame and dated line. But does anyone remember WHY Washington was referred to as "first in war, first in peace"? General Washington was a gigantic figure in the creation of this country. He lead the armies. He secured the terms of British surrender. And he was the first president.

There were those who wanted to crown Washington as King following the revolution. He would have no part in it.

To fully appreciate the times in which Washington lived, you have to understand that the idea of a ruler who voluntarily steps down after a period of time and turns over power to another in a peaceful transition was something well outside of the norm. That Washington would serve two terms, handing over power to the newly elected President Adams at the end of his second term, and simply go home to Virginia was astounding for the times in which he lived.

That was the greatness of Washington.

Contrast that with the evil that was Lincoln. I wrote extensively about what Lincoln was (vice the "history" we're taught in government schools) two years ago. There's no point to elaborate on what I wrote then. It would just be piling on.

To lump Lincoln and Washington into a sort of equivalence (which is what Nixon effectively did) is to disrepect the greatness of Washington and whitewash the atrocities of Lincoln.

It's not right. It's just not right.