I share a birthday with George Washington, first President of the United States.
My fascination with President Washington extends all the way back to my childhood. My mother told me, “You were due on Lincoln’s birthday, but held out for Washington.” Growing up, I studied both men, and in my various American History classes, I became fascinated with their contributions to our society.
This day is also special for meeting a high school sweetheart. In a “getting to know your conference attendees”, we had to organize ourselves by birth date, only, without talking. After some initial confusion, I found myself in a silent partnership with a bit of the cuteness, standing there looking simultaneously impish, intelligent and very feminine. We had a torrid relationship, and so the male part of me associates my birthday with the nubile pretty.
Funny how now, I associate my birthday as the day I can take a nap without much interruption. It is the simple things in life for a family man. Indeed, the family holds more to the day than I do, for I just cannot think of it as my own, as the day the clock ticks over and suddenly my driver’s license tags me as being older. I can think of nothing I would rather do today then just be with them, and this is what I shall do.
No, I have always thought of this day belonging to Washington, and it is fitting, I think, I live in the state named after him in honor. History reveals Washington was a reluctant leader, and I admire the quality of the man. We can associate him with his actions, but there is a lot unsaid.
I can imagine General George Washington, in the middle of winter, looking through Valley Forge to the future. I can see him standing there, perhaps, on a little rise, thinking, “This really sucks. But in the spring, I will wage war on the enemy, and this land will be ours, free from tyranny.”
What a remarkable time that was! Sometimes, I wonder, if those memories we have of the great American Spirit are bittersweet, like the memory of that girl, also born on Washington’s Birthday, so long ago. Have we squandered something precious? For it is deeds, not words, that is the measure of men and women. Washington was a humble man who shirked the cult of personality, and as another year goes by and we are here at his birthday, I miss him.