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Washington And Lincoln Wouldn’t Recognize America Today

These great American presidents were willing to give their lives to establish a new nation. We are called to do no less to save this country.

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Holidays, memorials, and monuments are more important than ever for Americans as we face the infiltration of cultural Marxism and the abysmal state of American history education in our failing public school system. Only a generation or two ago, it was understood that we, in the present, stand on the shoulders of great people who came before us. In addition to appreciating and learning from heroic figures, it was also understood that it’s important to connect the present with the virtues of the past. 

Radical Islamists, communists, and others hostile to constitutional law who reject this foundational view of our civilization have infiltrated our government at all levels, and are using their power against the American people and to subvert our nation’s general belief that history — good, bad, and ugly — should be preserved, passed onto future generations, and used as a learning tool.

As more Americans are awakened to the fact that the freedoms, rights, and opportunities they took for granted for generations have been brazenly stripped away in the last few years — primarily by the federal government and its administrative state — this President’s Day 2024 may well be one of our most significant holidays. 

Presidents Day was primarily established to bring together the celebration of two of America’s greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whose birthdays fall in February. The first was a founder, the second was a savior. 

Washington was the key founder of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, which defeated Great Britain, the greatest military power in the world at the time. Later, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention and was unanimously elected as the first president of the United States in 1789. 

Less than a century after Washington’s time, Lincoln became the 16th president and was the wartime commander-in-chief who presided over the start and end of the Civil War. In so doing, he set the stage for national reunification — ending the scourge of slavery and saving the United States from division. In short, Lincoln saved the republic that Washington made possible. Both were remarkable men whose wisdom and judgment were profound, remaining as relevant today as they were in their times many years ago. 

In the figures of Washington and Lincoln, we are confronted with flawed men who made mistakes, but whose remarkable qualities were so formidable that they contributed to the essence of what we call “American exceptionalism.” Both presidents readily admitted that it was not their own abilities that made the difference but rather their faith, trust, and reliance on God that gave them their strength and opened the way for ultimate success. 

While America’s founding principles are under attack, and as division plagues our nation once again, it is particularly striking for Americans today to consider how both Washington and Lincoln agreed that America’s greatest threat to national survival would not come from military invasion from a foreign power. Rather it would come from within. 

Washington’s final gift to America was his Farewell Address, which he referred to as “a warning from a departing friend.” It was so profound and popular that it was reprinted more than the Declaration of Independence. Prophetic in nature, it warned against three internal threats to liberty in the American Republic. They are more relevant now than ever before: first, the failure of citizens to be well-informed; second, internal division because of party factions and hyper-partisanship; and third, the decline of religious obligation and national morality. 

Lincoln similarly prompted Americans to think and be vigilant about internal threats to freedom. He posed the question, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?” He answered that question, stating, “If it ever reaches us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. … As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

After his reelection for a second term, shortly before his assassination, Lincoln also observed that “corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.” 

While he could not possibly have foreseen the technological transformations to come in the U.S. economy, Lincoln was still prescient. Today, it is obvious that the aggregation and concentration of wealth in the information technology and pharmaceutical industries are major contributing factors to the undermining of First Amendment rights. Free speech after all is the cornerstone of the republic and must be protected. 

Washington and Lincoln were unique and very different in personality, but both were men of deep faith, wisdom, courage, and persistence. Each lived in different times with different challenges, but both were willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. They shared a vision of America as a nation grounded in the ideas of the Declaration of Independence and of preserving the individual right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And they both believed that if the nation lived up to these ideals, the United States would remain a light and beacon of hope for the world. 

Washington and Lincoln were committed to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If somehow, they could be resurrected and transported into the present, neither would recognize what America has become.

Presidents’ Day offers us the opportunity to appreciate and internalize the qualities found in these two leaders, who are universally considered to be the greatest American presidents. To the extent we can internalize and build character around the virtues that each embodied, we too can regain our voice and courage to fight and reestablish our unalienable rights that define who we are as Americans. Our success in this may well be the key to preventing our nation’s downfall. 

America is being assaulted on many more fronts than at the time of the American War of Independence. Our challenge today is one of commitment. The founders were willing to give their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to establish independence and create a new nation. We are called to do no less to save this country.


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