A couple of months ago, my blogging friend, Rebecca (a.k.a. Clanmother) and I were discussing America’s Founding Fathers and the books we were reading by them and about them.
She told me a charming story about her reaction to an audiobook on George Washington so I asked her if she would graciously be a guest blogger on my site and share the story with all of you. Luckily, she agreed.
Here is Rebecca’s beautiful guest post:
“The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”
Books bring back moments long after they have occurred. They allow us to break through barriers of time and location to experience life through the eyes of another. We are living the story, feeling the joys, sorrows and identifying with the hopes and ambitions of the central characters.
Letizia’s post on “Revisiting the Jefferson Bible” reminded me of the biography, “His Excellency: George Washington” by Joseph J. Ellis, which I read via audio-book. (When I walk back and forth from work, I always take an audio-book with me.)
One night, I came home, crying.
My husband asked, “What’s wrong?” I said that George had died.
“George Washington,” I replied
“But you knew that he would die when you read the book, didn’t you?”
“Yes” I sobbed, “but I wish he hadn’t!”
Beginnings are marked by remarkable people doing remarkable deeds. As time goes by, these events take on a mythical aura while the individuals become the “stuff of legends.” We do not see them as mortal beings; rather, we elevate them to a reverential status that separates them from the ordinary.
The Founding Fathers of the United States fit into this category. Benjamin Franklin was considered the wisest, Thomas Jefferson the intellectual, John Adams the scholar, and Alexander Hamilton the most brilliant; yet they all recognized George Washington as their superior. In 1775, he was unanimously elected by the Continental Congress to be commander-in-chief. He lost many battles, but continued, undaunted until the war was won.
Portraits of George Washington show him as distant, even intimidating and cold. Yet, as his life unfolded, I envisioned him at 11 when he lost his father, at 21 when he was appointed emissary for the governor of Virginia, and at 23 as a brave young officer who gained recognition for his valour in the French and Indian War. I imagined him years later at Valley Forge, where he shared the cold winter months with his men. As a president, I saw him exercise sound judgment as he led a fledgling nation. At the end, he embraced death with grace and equanimity.
I treasure those days when I “walked” with George Washington. He reminded me that one person, in the midst of conflict and complexity, can make a difference, be a force for good, an advocate for peaceful outcomes. His legacy will continue to inspire new generations.
First in war—first in peace—and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and enduring scenes of private life; pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting… His last scene comported with the whole tenor of his life—although in extreme pain, not a sigh, not a groan escaped him; and with undisturbed serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the man America has lost—such was the man for whom our nation mourns.
Eulogy by Congressman Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee
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