- - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It’s a pity that we no longer celebrate George Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday separately from Presidents Day.

Appreciation of Washington’s greatness has unfortunately evaporated as our educational establishment either emulsifies the teaching of American history to the mush called social sciences — or worse, refracts this history only through the prism of race, sex and class.

Though admirable and accomplished in many ways, Washington was in his day most admired by friend and foe alike for his revolutionary willingness to give up power and peaceably transfer it to a successor chosen by others.

When his great adversary, King George III, was told in 1795 that Washington (who himself could have been a king) would retire from the presidency to his farm, the king said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” The king meant those words. Upon Washington’s death in 1799, in tribute, the entire British Royal Navy lowered its ships’ flags to half mast.


A Washington contemporary and fellow revolutionary, Napoleon Bonaparte, himself delivered a eulogy for Washington and placed France in mourning for 10 days.

Most tellingly, after Napoleon crowned himself emperor but was forced to abdicate, he explained his exile to Elba by writing, “They wanted me to be another Washington.”

What a cruel irony that the city to whom Washington gave his name is chockablock with careerist politicians who will hang on to whatever power they have until death or disgrace deprives them of it.

BOB FOYS

Chicago