No, I’m not going to introduce you to another physical virus that threatens our great land. At the same time, there is a sickness in our nation that approaches epidemic levels. This one doesn’t need a scientifically developed vaccine, but could be cured by an honest appraisal of our history.
We were not founded by perfect people. There has been only one perfect person and He died two thousand years ago, but I quickly add, He did not remain dead! That sounds like a miracle, doesn’t it? It was and it was the greatest miracle of all time.
No, we weren’t founded by perfect people, but if we deny that our founders were not remarkably accomplished men and women, worthy of remembrance, we are not being very smart as a nation. I was reminded of this as I prepared my Independence Day Sunday message.
The epidemic that I mentioned in my opening paragraph is a serious malady. We need to proceed with caution as we tear down our statues and history. It’s almost like walking through a minefield. The saying, “One person’s treasure is another person’s trash” comes to mine. One person’s hero may be another person’s villain.
It’s too bad that our times are so emotional that there can be no rational discussions.
For there are certainly some men and women who deserve to be remembered. Imagine a nation where the history has been so antiseptically removed. Imagine no monuments to the courageous men and women who deserve to be remembered.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to the tearing down of statues. It’s usually a man, but if we examined the entirety of every hero we would find some skeletons in their closets.
Take, for instance, George Washington. His bust is one of the four on Mount Rushmore that served as the backdrop for our President’s Fourth of July speech.
In all honesty and historical accuracy George Washington is to be remembered as a great man, though not a perfect man. He was a privileged land owner, which included slaves. The matter of slavery is not to be brushed aside or ignored.
As I mentioned in my last column, no one, today, would say that it is okay and George Washington was wrong to own other people. It’s easy to dismiss or even whitewash this portion of Washington’s life, but it’s not right. On that we must be clear. That’s part of the history to be honest about and acknowledge. The question for us today is “Do we define George Washington by that historical fact?”
The first Continental Congress of 1775 chose Washington to be the commander-in-chief of an army that had not been fully formed or trained to fight the world’s most powerful military. Who knows if anyone other than George Washington could have led such an uphill battle? Against those odds, he actively led the ragtag citizen army to victory and the disparate colonies became the United States of America.
As soon as the victory was won in 1782, he quickly resigned as Commander and went back to farming. There was no ambition to be president, but, when a leader was needed to be the first president of the newly-formed nation in 1789, the nation unanimously called upon George Washington.
The problems of a new nation were many and George Washington’s abilities were needed to answer those many problems. For his efforts, Washington has been called the Father of our Nation.
Washington is just one of the faces on Mount Rushmore. Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt are the others. None perfect, but all of them deserve to be honored.
Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” And everybody said, “Amen!”