by Gary Spina
Humble and Obedient Servants
by Gary Spina
(Copyright 2010 by Gary Spina)
Were it not for George Washington, there would never have been a United States of America as we know it – for, indeed, at every crucial turn of our early history, in the teeth of death and danger, there stood George Washington with his fearlessness, his wisdom, and his unwavering resolve.
He was a man not to be trifled with. Yet Washington had a quiet presence about him, an uncanny, intuitive grasp of essentials. His was a strength and charm that served him as well on the dance floor as on the battlefield. After dancing with the six foot-four Washington, the wife of a wealthy merchant whispered to a friend: “It is well General Washington is on our side. I would fear greatly for our country were he against us.”
Washington was at the same time aristocratic and humble. He was a surveyor, engineer, farmer, merchant trader, an officer, and a gentleman – a man who led a rag-tag army – “rabble in arms” – to victory against wave after wave of fresh British reinforcements.
But the Continental Army had been ill-treated by a corrupt congress – left to starve, no winter clothes or boots, few supplies — and the men unpaid. Undeserving officers had bribed Congressmen for promotions. Scandals had been invented to ruin great leaders like Arnold and Schuyler. Jealous little men, incompetents, and sycophants — Gates, Easton, and Hazen received honor they did not deserve. Through it all, above it all, and relying on the last fiber of his dogged tenacity, General George Washington persevered.
After their triumph over the greatest military on earth, and with the force of an army now to back them up, some of Washington’s embittered officers suggested the thirteen colonies be consolidated into “the establishment of a kingdom with Washington at the head.” Of course, they were talking treason and Washington would have no part of it. He admonished them severely.
In 1789, when he took the oath of office as President of the United States, Washington affirmed: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And then he added: “So help me, God.” Those four added words recognizing a higher power have become a tradition ever since.
The presidency was Washington’s for as long as he wanted – such was his country’s gratitude and love for him. But after two terms as president, Washington returned to his beloved Mount Vernon. While the monarchs and emperors of Europe marveled at how any man could voluntarily abdicate the heights of power, George Washington became an ordinary citizen again.
There were many elements of Washington’s greatness, not the least of which was the literal signature of that greatness. Many of his letters, notes, and documents were styled: “Your most humble and obedient servant, George Washington.” And so he considered himself – a servant – honored to serve the people and the nation he so loved.
Today, our public servants seem to have forgotten the history of our nation’s founding. Or, they never learned it. Remember well how our politicians railed against the people as we dared make our voices heard at last summer’s Tea Parties. Remember well the backroom dealings and the heavy-handed legislation under which our “leaders” would subjugate a free people and strip away our prosperity – the “stimulus pork bill,” “government healthcare,” and “cap and trade” among others.
In petitioning our government, please do as I do in addressing our representatives:
“As my humble and obedient servant, I am putting you on notice – I am letting you know – I am expressing my wish…”
Never, never let them forget the precious legacy George Washington bequeathed us