Birthday Of A Giant: Where Have You Gone George Washington?

 

 

” I don’t celebrate “President’s Day.” I celebrate the presidents individually, not the whole gaggle of them at once. But I most certainly don’t celebrate George Washington, the father of our country, as just another president. These days, George Washington has been relegated to that “truth telling guy” to be seen on the one dollar bill and on TV commercials at the end of February or that guy lumped in with Lincoln on “President’s Day.” And that is a shame, indeed, for, without George Washington, our presidency and nation might have become a far different place.

What made Washington such a giant for our times as well as his? For one thing, he knew how to act in public.

A few months ago I was walking through an itinerant book store, an empty store front temporarily rented by entrepreneurs who have bought returned books or close out books at cut-rate prices to sell cheaply to the public. In the history section I saw there the usual Clinton apologist books, Bush Hatemonger’s screeds, and the Obama-lover books that no one wanted, the dry collegiate studies of the fall of the Roman Empire, and the coffee table compilation books that have recently fallen out of favor. Suddenly I spied a spare little book edited and commented upon by Richard Bookhiser called Rules of Civility, The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President In War And Peace. This 90 page hardback book sported the price of only $4.00 so I picked it up.

I took it home and spent the few minutes it took to read the Rules that were said to have governed the life of George Washington and found myself wondering what the heck happened to civility in this country? What happened to the etiquette that, once upon a time, governed civil society?

Mr. Brookhiser points out in his forward that Washington was the best of both worlds in a revolutionary leader. He was able to lead a rebellion as well as govern the new country after the rebellion succeeded. It was once remarked by a European diplomat’s wife that Washington had, “perfect good breeding and a correct knowledge of even the etiquette of a court.” High praise, indeed, from a haughty European in the days when they were so sure the United States of America were doomed to ignominious failure.”

 

George Washington’s Rules For Civility And Decent Behavior In Company And Conversation PDF Download