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“We had officers of great military talents, as for instance, Greene and others; we had officers of the most consummate courage and enterprise in spirit, as, for instance, Wayne and others. One was yet necessary, to guide, direct and animate the whole, and it pleased Almighty God to send that one in the person of George Washington.”
— General Daniel Morgan -
For almost 175 years citizens celebrated Washington’s Birthday, not Presidents Day. It was that important. He was the man Chief Justice John Marshall said, "in times of danger every eye was turned, and all hopes were placed. ... of those whom Heaven has selected as its instruments for dispensing good to man." Assigned by Providence to be the protector of ages yet unborn. When all depended on his virtue, fidelity, and trust in God, he held true in the fight for the Holy cause of liberty. He helped to birth into the world a new nation and God’s gift of (American) liberty and freedom. While there are many reasons to honor George Washington and his service to country, the celebration of his birth was less about the man or the positions he held. It was more about honoring a man that God had chosen to be the father of his country which birthed (American) liberty and freedom into the world.
Americans first started to celebrate Washington’s Birthday in 1797, soon after his death. If the twenty-
It was noted by many who met Washington that there was something very different about the man. Abigail Adams meet George Washington soon after his arrival in Boston and wrote to John:
I was struck with Gen. Washington. You had prepared me to entertain a favorable opinion of him; but I thought the half was not told me. Dignity with ease and complacency, the gentleman and soldier, look agreeably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feature of his face. Those lines of [John] Dryden (English poet) instantly occurred to me; “Mark his majestic fabric: he’s a temple; Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine: His soul’s the deity that lodges there; Nor is the pile unworthy of the God”
It was more than his humble and self-
The war was “distinguished by so many marks of divine favor and interposition” John Jay said during the war, he had no doubt of independence from Britain finally being accomplished. He said:
Divine Providence has made the tyranny of princes instrumental in breaking the chains of their subjects, and rendered the most inhuman designs, productive of the best consequences, to those against whom they were intended. … It was begun, and has been supported, in a manner so singular, and I say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history, they will be tempted to consider great part of it fabulous. … But, however incredible these things may in the future appear, we know them to be true, and we should always remember, that the many remarkable and unexpected means and events, by which our wants have been supplied, and our enemies repelled or restrained, are such strong and striking proofs of the interposition of heaven, that our having been hitherto delivered from the threatened bondage of Britain, ought, like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude, to be forever ascribed to its true cause, and instead of swelling our breasts with arrogant ideas of our prowess and importances, kindle in them a flame of gratitude and piety, which may consume all remains of vice and irreligion [want of religion, or contempt of it; impiety]. Blessed be to God!“
Vice President John Adams openly discussed the divine hand that was upon Washington introducing him at the presidential inauguration. Adams publically stated, “Providence marked out the head of this nation, with a hand so distinctly visible as to have been seen by all men, and mistaken by none.”
Yet through all attention and fame, Washington remained humble. He did not want the position as Commander-
Washington was not ashamed to publicly remind us all of us that it is our duty to “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” His adopted daughter Nelly Custis-
Years later, God would use the celebration of Washington’s Birthday and the Liberty Bell to call the country’s attention to the unfinished business of slavery. A few months shy of the seventeenth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell rang out all morning in celebration of Washington’s Birthday. Then at “high noon” cracked and fell silent. The Biblical implication is that it was high noon when Jesus died on the cross and darkness fell over the land. Seventy biblically means punishment and restoration of Israel. With the Civil War and sin of slavery removed from the land, then the country could finally "Proclaim liberty” which is God’s word “throughout the land."
Even the humble Abraham Lincoln had the highest respect for Washington’s Birthday. He said,
“We are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, a eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.”
After the Civil War there was a push to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as well. And a number of states observed both with Lincoln’s on February 12th and Washington’s February 22nd, to honor two humble men who served at their country at turbulent times in history. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that went into effect in 1971. It moved Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day to Monday. Observance of Washington’s Birthday is the third Monday in February, now referred and celebrated as Presidents Day to include all the presidents of the United States.
But today we have lost both the spirit and knowledge of our past history. As a result we have lost a part of who we are as Americans. Presidents Day has become just another shopping day, work day, or for government employees a paid holiday. Presidents Day does not honor the man that God had marked out to head the nation by a divine hand so distinctly visible that it was seen my all men. In celebrating Washington’s Birthday we honor the man whom God raised up and protected, backed by miracles and blessings gave America to be free. Though God does not sell well in our secular entertainment driven consumer society, remembrance of Washington’s Birthday focuses us back on God’s gift of liberty and freedom, and what we risk losing as a nation if we reject His laws and commandments and turn our backs on God.