With Feb. 18's being Presidents Day and Feb. 22's being the actual day George Washington was born, I thought there would no better time to honor the man I consider to be one of the greatest leaders ever born. And I'm going to take a few weeks (columns) to do it.
Let me begin by highlighting a few background notes for some who might not be so familiar with this pillar of American life beyond the basics, as documented by the University of Virginia and the History channel.
On Feb. 22, 1732, George Washington was born to a family of middling wealth in Westmoreland County, Va., the second son from the second marriage of a Colonial plantation owner.
In 1752, Washington joined the British army and served as a lieutenant in the French and Indian War.
In 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow, and adopted her two children.
In 1775, at age 43, Washington became the commander in chief of the Continental Army, and in 1783, he led America to victory over the British after eight years of war.
As far as his political career goes, Washington served as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1759 until 1774. He was also a member of the first and second Continental Congresses in 1774 and 1775. But while others were signing the Declaration of Independence, Washington was already on the battlefield, fighting for independence. As the president of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, however, Washington was the first signer of the U.S. Constitution.
In 1789, Washington became the first president of the United States of America. He was elected unanimously by the 69 presidential electors to serve his first term, which was from 1789 to 1793. He was elected unanimously again for his second term, from 1793 to 1797. He declined a third term.
So here are my top 10 reasons I wish George Washington were still alive and why I believe the model of his life is still worthy to shadow today. (These are also the reasons I often cited in my New York Times best-seller "Black Belt Patriotism," which has an expanded paperback edition.)
10) Even as a youth, Washington was a role model for many. At just 14, George wrote out in freehand by his own volition "110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation." At 17, George's first official job was as the official surveyor of Culpeper County, Va.