Today is George Washington's birthday. Power Line gives a fitting commemoration. I read another tribute to Washington to my daughter this morning at breakfast from William Bennett's The American Patriot's Almanac. Washington was clearly a man put in place and protected by Providence, as he himself recognized. It is natural to wonder "Did angels protect him?" once you know his astounding story. And he was only one (though perhaps the most important one) of the heroes who brought about our nation together. But his own contemporaries recognized his greatness.
Today should be a day of thanksgiving for our hero. Every child should know him as the father of our nation, "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." And if you don't know who said that about him, you should learn it today, in honor of his birthday.
My daughter and I are wondering if anyone will mention George Washington or his birthday today at school--including her teachers. I told her, if nobody else mentions him, you do it.
UPDATE: My cynical guess was correct: not one person mentioned George Washington to my daughter yesterday, besides me. Not one teacher, administrator, or student. My daughter mentioned that it was his birthday to two of her friends, and I am very proud of her for not letting the day go unremarked. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson would be spinning in their graves if they could see what goes on in my little corner of the suburbs, let alone in the highest offices in Washington, D.C.
It does not escape me that my children have studied Martin Luther King, Jr. every year in their public schools, sometimes at great (and warranted) length and depth--and yet they receive so little instruction in our founding fathers and mothers. My daughter had never heard the sobriquets "Father of his country" or "First in war, first in peace...." and no one at her school mentioned the passing of Lincoln's birthday, either. When I pointed out the inequitable attention being paid to Martin Luther King, Jr., my daughter spoke up quickly, "But he was awesome!" "Indeed he was," I assured her. "But so was George Washington, and without him it's possible we'd be speaking with British accents today." My daughter wouldn't mind THAT fate (she thinks British accents are COOL), but she got the point. No thanks to her school.
Our PTA is the the same as the teachers. They sponsor a contest every year to get the children to write essays about their heroes (my daughter is thoroughly sick of the contests, and now writes to make sure her essays won't be chosen). Having sat in on a PTA meeting, I finally heard the inside scoop--the "heroes" they want to see in the winning essays are not Founding Fathers, or achievers who cause children to aspire to greatness, like Mark Twain (about whom my daughter one year naively wrote). No, the PTA and the teachers want the hero essays to evoke emotions in the readers. They want the winning essays to be about "heroes" who are ordinary, unknown contemporaries who have surmounted personal challenges or disabilities or who have launched local charities. They want the children to develop character and aspire, but on how small a scale!
There's nothing wrong with such "heroes" with a small h. But why the monolithic disparity in attention paid between "small h" heroes and true Heroes we should all venerate and remember? Why are our teachers neglecting to teach our children about their country's history? Why are our teachers failing to take pride in, and instill recognition of, what should be our people's highest common values?
Is this reason enough for a mother like me to complain to the principal of this high-achieving, award-winning school?
Or am I just being a (yet again? constantly?) culturally backward crank railing uselessly, who would be better off homeschooling?
When is it time to fight, and when is it time to bail and leave the others to their fate? Or do we all sink or swim together?
Labels: divine Providence, George Washington