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A Lesson About Life From George Washington


This is not the first time that I have written to express my deep admiration for George Washington and it certainly won’t be the last. To me, Washington understood the true meaning of life in a way that few others ever have. He valued service and sacrifice to his country above all else. Washington’s words were uttered in a different time, but they still echo through the pages of history to this day.

I am currently well immersed in Ron Chernow’s book, Washington: A Life. This massive biography provides such vivid detail of George Washington’s life and experiences that you gain a true understanding of the father of our country. The book contains abundant examples of Washington’s own words from his personnel letters and correspondence. One such letter written to his brother Jack in 1774 is something that I think about on a daily basis. Nearly a year before the opening shots of the Revolutionary War, Washington wrote these words to his brother, “It is my full intention to devote my life and fortune in the cause we are engaged in.” The cause Washington referred to was the pursuit of liberty for the 13 Colonies of North America. Before he would endure any of the hardships of battle, Washington was prepared to devote his life to his country.

My copy of Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

On June 15, 1775, Washington lived out the words that he professed to believe. That day, the Second Continental Congress offered him command of the Army of the United Colonies. Upon accepting this command, Washington said this, “I this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal in the command I am honored with.” He would go on to decline to be paid for his services as Commander-in-chief of the army. Like Washington had written before his assignment, “It is my full intention to devote my life and fortune in the cause we are engaged in.” Washington wanted to serve and despite the unimaginable difficulties that would come his way, he never failed to live by those words.

General George Washington crossing the Delaware River on December 25, 1776. Painting by Emanuel Leutze in 1851. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

As this example set by George Washington shows us, life is not about making money. A life worth living is one in which we find what we believe in and live everyday to profess those beliefs. Knowing this gives me great purpose and focus in my life. Following Washington’s example from long ago, I am prepared to devote my life to spreading my message of honoring America and those who have defended it through This Is Why We Stand.

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