A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
(A Note From the Editor: The following is a personal commentary of the author. SFPNN has not verified this information nor do we endorse politics of any kind so don't write me if you don't agree with part of it. I liked the message that Joseph Walker delivered!)
THE PATRIOTS BEHIND THE PRESIDENTS
OK, that's it.
No more reading.
(WARNING: THIS IS A SEMI-PROFESSIONAL READER-WRITER AT WORK HERE. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.)
I just read another highly researched treatise about why I shouldn't admire Abraham Lincoln. Seems he wasn't all that smart. And he drank too much. And sometimes he said mean things, possibly as a result of clinical depression. And those logs he chopped, earning him a reputation as the Great Rail Splitter? There's a good chance that - are you ready for this? - termites had weakened those logs.
And we won't even go into the stories about his wife, Mary.
For as long as I can remember, Abraham Lincoln has been my favorite U.S. president. Somehow, I could relate to him. He was tall (I was tall). He was a voracious reader who often finished books late at night by candlelight (I remember sneaking a flashlight under my blanket to finish "Green-Eyed Phantoms" for the fifth time). He lost more elections than he won (I found great consolation in that fact when I lost my campaign for student body president of Millcreek Junior High to Mark Havens, who clearly outclassed me with his good looks, his charming personality and his boss sideburns).
But now, after all of these revelations, how will I cope - especially after President's Day?
Somehow, I think I'll manage. Hey, I'm a child of the Watergate era. I have long since given up any expectation of personal infallibility for presidents past or present, from George Washington's environmental recklessness (remember that cherry tree?) to George W. Bush's heartily partying offspring. Presidents are, first and foremost, people, and as such they are subject to the same human failings and imperfections as the rest of us.
Or, in the case of Bill Clinton, moreso.
Besides, who are we trying to kid here? America's greatness has never been measured strictly in terms of presidential performance. While we have had our share of great leaders, we have had more than our share of great followers - common, ordinary, everyday men and women who bring public policy to vibrant life. While Lincoln gets credit for his Emancipation Proclamation, it only worked because thousands of men and women - both black and white - were bold, daring and courageous enough to make it work.
The same is true of other American leaders. Teddy Roosevelt wouldn't have made it half-way up San Juan Hill if he had been rough-riding alone.
Franklin Roosevelt may have led us through the dark days of the Great Depression, but he banked on the hard work and sacrifice of millions of individuals and families. And while the buck may have stopped at Harry S Truman's desk, it didn't stay there for long. It eventually made its way off the desk and out the White House door to millions of American homes, where it was woven into the fabric of everyday living.
And that's what I'm thinking about after this President's Day. Oh sure, I also thought about the Lincolns, the Washingtons and the Jeffersons.
But in addition to Abe, George and Thomas, I'm thinking about William Lincoln, Beverly Washington, Terry Jefferson.
The patriots you read about - and the ones you don't.
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--- © Joseph Walker
Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.