On this Presidents Day 2021, the day is making history itself.
It falls on the day after an historic weekend that saw the trial in the U.S. Senate of the first U.S. President in history to have been impeached by the U.S. House twice and twice acquitted.
On Presidents Day, in an annual observance of the nation’s first president for whom this day was first declared, before it became a day when we honor all presidents, today, in the same chamber where the impeachment trial was held, a member of the U.S. Senate reads the farewell address of President George Washington.
The speech is a reminder of the first president’s warnings about regionalism and partisanship that still ring true today.
And if you read George Washington’s farewell address, you also hear a leader who said something you don’t hear a lot from today’s political leaders: an uncommon humility.
As Washington put it in describing his years as president, while “I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence.”
All these many decades later, here on Presidents Day of 2021, George Washington’s historic farewell address is a message from the past, a message to us all; a message about our leaders and about the people who elect them.
(Photo Getty Images)