I know that most of you have heard of the hero, General, and President General George Washington. But let me take you a little farther into the life of the man who led the country we all love so dearly to freedom on January 14, 1784.
George Washington was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732. I would be willing to bet that when Mrs. Washington held little baby George in her arms for the first time, she had no idea the great gift that this baby would grow to be for the whole nation. Over the course of his life, she would continue to guilt-trip him for not putting her own comfort first.
At age 16 George started war play. When he joined the army, he began to learn very quickly what battle was like, and what was important in crucial moments. He learned to aim and fire a gun successfully, how to plan a battle, and he learned a lot about sword play. He was also taught how to serve and care for his fellow soldiers.
Not long after he joined the army, the French and Indian war began. Washington, at that time a lieutenant colonel, was sent in to help. When he and British General Edward Braddock were sent with a troop to take Ohio back from the French, they were ambushed by a French and Indian force. Braddock was mortally wounded, and the troop devolved into utter chaos, trying to retreat.
Then Washington stepped up to fill the gap. He raced around the field collecting Braddock’s troops and made possible the retreat of all the men together. That entire troop owed their lives to George Washington that day.
Washington fought for and served the mother country well, but when it became time to choose sides for the Revolutionary War … Washington too had his complaints about the British tyranny; thus, he knew where his allegiance lay.
When George was in Congress, he believed they ought to make a stand and fight or not make a stand at all. It was this driving, forward attitude—on top of his military experience—that made the congress realize that he would be perfect to lead their army. Thus he became General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief.
When it finally became time to fight the war head on, George Washington was there for all his troops. He was a great general and someone they could all rely on. Through the victories and losses, he pushed through and held his head high, even though his generals and even members of Congress plotted to replace him. His headstrong ways never changed and were what kept his troops going through it all (e.g, the Battle of Trenton). When times seemed the bleakest, you could count on George to pull you out again.
During the encampment of valley forge, when the winter of 1777-1778 left them all freezing to death, with bleeding, fooe feet and almost no clothes, George was there for his men, fighting to keep them alive. He motivated them with his words and encouraged every last one to keep going through the terrible winter. He ordered fires to be made, although the only wood around was poor for burning. What little heat they had was better than nothing at all.
Replica of encampment at Valley Forge by Dan Smith, used with permission
Although food was scarce, when they did eat George would make sure all his soldiers were fed before he would eat. Although the struggle was long and hard, he eventually emerged from it with, in the words of one witness, an army of skeletons. It was hard, but he fought back against it just as hard.
When the Treaty of Paris was signed, thus ending the war, George Washington’s service to our young country was not over. He was elected the first president of the United States of America. He served as an inspiration to our country for eight years after the war. Although his heart lay in his home, Mount Vernon, he diligently cared for our country throughout his presidency.
Portrait by Gilbert Stuart (d. 1828)
When in his old age he finally retired to his home, he was given back the title General George Washington, which he held until his death. Washington died of a throat infection on December 14, 1799. He will always be remembered, at least in my home, for his selfless services to our country.