Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Presidents Day!

A holiday that some of us fortunately get to take off work for and a holiday that some of us didn't know even existed. However, during my reading of 1776 by David McCullough, I have found a new found respect for our Founding Fathers and past Presidents. Despite each Presidents' shortcomings throughout history, each has kept this nation together. The irony to all of this is that today, our struggles are not very different from that of General George Washington. To say we live in a polarized society right now would be to fail to view the world through the lens of history. In 1776, the country was split between the Loyalists and Sons of Liberty. Violence against each other was not uncommon. There was contempt between New Englanders and Southerners in the Continental Army. General Washington was almost removed from head of the army and lost the trust of his most trusted aide after losing New York City. To give perspective, read this quote:

"In August [1776], Washington had had an army of 20,000. In the three months since, he had lost four battles-- at Brooklyn, Kips Bay, White Plains, and Fort Washington-- then gave up Fort Lee without a fight. His army now was divided as it had not been in August and, just as young Lieutenant Monroe had speculated, he had only about 3,500 troops under his personal command-- that was all." (1776, David McCullough, pg 249)
While we may have our struggles today, our situation is indescribably more favorably than that of America in 1776. Just as today, there were doubts then about the fate of the war. Washington's leadership was questioned after being proven to be indecisive and unable to act in his failure to keep the British and Hessians from taking over New York (that and British naval power). The General was humiliated and questioned if he was fit for the job. Yet as history showed, George Washington kept his grit and proved to be the savior of the "Glorious Cause" and an astounding leader. So today, let us appreciate the comforts we have in life and not take for granted the leader of our nation. To quote Thomas Paine (the author of Common Sense) in his essay "The American Crisis" shortly after the loss at New York "...that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly..."

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