Friday, February 22, 2019

Happy Birthday to George Washington

On February 22, 2019, we celebrate the 287th anniversary of George Washington’s Birthday.  Have a piece of cherry pie in honor of the birthday boy!

Here are some interesting facts about the birthday:

Alexandria, Virginia hosts the nation’s oldest and largest George Washington Birthday Parade, capping off a month of tributes to Washington, including the costumed “Birthday Ball” held at Gadsby’s Tavern.

Alexandria, Virginia Parade

GeorgeFest is the longest running festival celebrating Washington’s Birthday.  Started in 1902 in Eustis, Florida, the festival features outdoor dining, music, fireworks, carnival rides, a float parade and an annual 5K run.  It is held annually in the last weekend of February

The federal holiday honoring Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879.

In 1782, Washington created the Purple Heart (which bears his likeness) to recognize meritorious service during the Revolution.  The medal fell into disuse, but was revived in 1932 to mark the bicentennial of Washington’s Birthday.  The revived medal recognizes wounded soldiers.

Since 1862 there has been a tradition in the United States Senate of reading George Washington’s Farewell Address on his birthday, which in part reads:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection….” 

Neither Martha Washington nor the women of the South’s leading families were marble statues, they had the same strengths and weaknesses, passions and problems, joys and sorrows, as the women of any age.  So just how did they live?

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