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Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Thursday, February 19, 2015





American history was important to my mother, who was proud of her membership in The Colonial Dames. Stories of early America were integral to my childhood. Naturally, the ones about George Washington were particularly important. I heard early the old pious tale about  the cherry tree and about the coin his super-powerful arm was supposed to have thrown across the Potomac.
My interest was helped along because I serendipitously happened into life on George Washington’s birthday. For many years I took pleasure from sharing the day with the great man. After all, back in the ‘50’s this was still celebrated on the day on which it fell, which meant that my birthday was a school holiday. Pretty sweet! Even if February in upstate NY meant we were buried in 6 feet of snow. Friends came to house for sledding and for snow-fort-building, but, by the time I was eight or nine, costume parties were my favorite.   To have a costume party in the dead of winter was a little weird—remember, this is the ‘50’s —but everyone got into the spirit, even if it just meant finding last autumn’s Halloween costume again.

To get back to President Washington--I appreciated him even more after I grew up. I learned, as I read history, that he went far beyond homilies, holidays and cherry pies.   


Father of Our Country. Think about what it means. It’s pretty heavy stuff to lay on anybody who put his pants on one leg at a time. Still, when you take a look at his track record here’s what you find:

Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army upon whose victory the thirteen colonies depended to secure their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the summer of 1787, he presided over America's Constitutional Convention. His presence lent decisive significance to the document drafted there, which continues in force in the twenty-first century as the oldest written constitution in the world. From 1789-1796, he held the highest office in the land as the first president of the United States of America under this constitution.”   
* The Claremont Institute


Even more important than all that formality above, Washington was “the man who would not be King.” Unlike every other 'People's' Revolution since, our military hero didn’t become a dictator, one imperfectly hidden beneath a variety of sound-bite "savior"' designations, as have so many others--Napoleon, Pol-Pot, Kim Il-sung, Stalin, Oliver Cromwell and Mao Zedong. Once the shouting (and the initial blood bath) are over, it's been time to return again to the same old thing--perhaps with a new group of privileged characters running things--but, nevertheless, back to monkey business as usual, where, as George Orwell says, "...some are more equal than others."

After our American Revolutionary War ended, in contrast to so many others "fearless leaders" of history, George Washington collected his hat, got up on favorite horse ("Blue Skin") and went home, back to his plantation. Granted, he was already rich and privileged. After the war, he was a living icon to boot, but he didn't use that considerable leverage to help himself to more. He didn't found a dynasty or play god. Some years later, when his term as our first president ended, he went home for a second time.

George Washington was, in fact, the “Cincinnatus” his contemporaries hailed. Exactly like that legendary Roman farmer, he left off plowing his fields to assume leadership of his country in a time of war. After the war was over, he quietly went home and took up life again as a private citizen. Like the title of James Flexner’s biography, George Washington truly was The Indispensable Man, a man who--rather astonishingly--didn't use his overwhelming personal popularity, his influence and his great wealth to grab America for himself.
~Juliet Waldron~
Danger, Flight, and a surprising Love--
Discover the American Revolution 


  1. As usual, voice is so clear in your writing! I am listening to a friend when I read your posts - in fact and from the writer's page. Love the costume party in February, and for your birthday! Let's have one tomorrow! Er... next week?
    Also so good to hear the truth about George the First (huh?). Where is he now? We need him. Of course we would have to form a pac and hold up strangers on the highway.
    Huzzah, Sister!

  2. Thanks, girlfriend! so nice to have comments--and if you have anything cooking in your head--send it along. :)

    Imagine if these guys all went home after 2 terms and actually became civilians again...instead of becoming highly paid PAC members...