Monday, February 18, 2008

AG Bob McDonnell's thoughts on George Washington Day....

Attorney General Bob McDonnell grew up in the shadow of George Washington's Mt. Vernon estate. He remembers George Washington Day.

Attorney General Bob McDonnell released the following statement regarding the observance of George Washington Day in Virginia.

“Today, we commemorate the life of George Washington. Through his leadership, and his personal example, George Washington did more to secure the future of our nation, and to determine the character of our government, than any other American in our history.

Washington won our nation’s freedom as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. With the final evacuation of the British in 1783 came the expectation that General Washington would now govern the nation whose freedom he had secured. Instead, he put down his sword, and quietly returned to private life. A few years later our nation sought a President to head the executive branch under the newly ratified Constitution, and turned again to Washington. He came out of his peaceful retirement at Mount Vernon, and ensured the success of our young nation’s government as our first President. He served two terms, and then, despite overwhelming support for his remaining in the Presidency, he voluntarily walked away from power and chose not to run again. He again quietly returned to private life.

Two of the most important hallmarks of our republican form of government today: civilian rule over the military and the peaceful and orderly transition of political power based on the decision of the voters were enshrined in our nation’s foundations by the personal, and selfless, actions of George Washington. In both instances, Washington had unlimited power in his grasp. His decision to seize that power would have been lauded by his fellow countrymen. It would have also fundamentally changed the character of our nation. Washington knew this. He knew that for America to be successful it must have a course of freedom and justice bigger than any one leader, and a citizenry committed to that ideal.

When King George III heard that Washington was to resign his commission as head of the Continental Army after its victory, and simply retire to private life, rather than take control of the new nation, he remarked, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” He did just that. And, in large part because of Washington’s contributions, today we live in the greatest nation the world has ever known.

As a boy I grew up on land near Mount Vernon once owned by George Washington. My mother worked for many years at Mount Vernon, and we came to greatly admire the legacy of Washington. He exhorted the nation to remember its values and roots as key to its longevity by stating, “The propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

Today, I urge all Virginians to remember the life and the legacy of the Commonwealth’s greatest citizen, George Washington.”

Cross-posted at

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