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Today is President’s Day. In the wake of November’s election, the nation’s capital is busting apart at the seams as both parties strive for dominance and relevance. Each party wants to show that it has heard the will of the people.
If Congress wants to do something really important, it could do worse than bring back Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthdays as national holidays.
I feel so sad for today’s kids. Nowadays, The 12th and 22nd of February are just two more days in a quirky month known mostly for Valentine’s and Leap Year.
Once, each president’s birthday was filled with magic. Poems and essays were written, pictures were drawn and plays were performed acting out the childhood deeds committed by these two giants.
By the time we were six years old, each of us knew what every school child in America knew: That the father of our country had once been just like us — a little boy who got caught. What did little Georgie do when his father asked him if he had chopped down the cherry tree? How many of America’s school children today know that frightened little Georgie looked his father in the eye, and replied, “I cannot tell a lie. It was I who cut down the cherry tree.”
Dad’s response? The rod was spared, and so was Georgie’s backside. Though it met with varying degrees of success, there wasn’t a one of us who didn’t try that tactic on our own fathers.
The ritual surrounding Honest Abe’s birthday sounded a similar theme.
Why was he “Honest Abe?” We all knew it revolved around him working in a store as a youngster. Inadvertently, he overcharged a woman three pennies. Had they not heard it at home, my kids wouldn’t know that Abe walked five miles (usually, it was mentioned that he was barefoot), just to return three pennies to that lady — or was it three miles to return five pennies?
The message was clear. There were a couple of things in it for you if you were honest.
One: People would like you so much that you could be elected President.
Second: If you battle tyrants and fight for freedom, or if you go to war to fight evils like slavery, your reward will be the greatest reward any six-year-old can fathom — a birthday party! And everybody in the country will come.
Unfortunately, a few academics from the ’60s got wind of the fact that there was no “scientific proof” that cherry trees even grew at Mt. Vernon — let alone that Washington had a confrontation with his father.
Then there was the messy issue that George Washington actually owned slaves. The fact that he eventually freed them never got him much credit.
Lincoln proved to be just as complicated. Maybe he didn’t grow up in a three-sided log cabin, read by firelight, or ever walked five miles to return three pennies.
Additionally, there were the facts that he suspended habeas corpus and ordered the arrest of Kentucky legislators who were going to vote for secession. Perhaps he suffered from melancholia, and may have gone to war as much for economic as well as moral reasons.
Today, neither Abe nor George is too politically correct. There are countless “experts” who never tire of reminding us that they have the “historical facts” to prove that myths surround these men are false. “Facts” miss the point.
These men were Giants.
Since the dawn of creation, man has depended on the power of myths. Myths provide the mechanism which allows us mortals to comprehend the incomprehensible.
Truth can actually be obfuscated by “facts.” The truth is that these men were titans.
So, members of Congress, let’s once again give our kids something to shoot for.
Let’s reinstitute two of the finest birthday parties ever. Let’s put a premium on honesty and character.
Let’s teach them a higher truth — that we honor greatness, virtue and character far more than we honor mediocrity, apathy, and self-gain — to say nothing of drug abuse, promiscuity, profane lyrics, etc.
With a couple of ideals to shoot for, who knows what affect it may have. If the antics of Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg can influence a generation, think what the actions of real giants could accomplish?