George Washington, born February 22, 1732 in Virginia, was a natural leader, instrumental in creating a united nation out of a conglomeration of struggling colonies and territories. The first president of the United States of America is affectionately honored as "the father of his country."
Shortly after his twenty-second birthday, Washington served in the army of King George III of England and was put in command of a troop of soldiers. The French were settling on British soil and turning the local Indians against the British colonists. Later, in the war against the French and Indians, Washington commanded large troops of soldiers and showed courage that inspired all his soldiers.
At this time, King George III of England dominated the thirteen colonies along the east coast and much of the surrounding territories. Colonists began to want their freedom, and live with a set of rules based on democracy, not under the rule of a faraway king. The Boston Tea Party of 1773, a colonial rebellion against taxes, helped to spark the American Revolution. Washington led and encouraged his inexperienced armies against the British forces for eight years until the colonies won their independence.
George Washington's Birthday: February 22
Laws for the new country were written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The laws called for a President, and here again George Washington was considered the natural choice. He agreed to serve his country as the first President. George Washington moved from Mount Vernon, his family home south of Alexandria, Virginia, to New York City, then the capital of the United States. The trip took a week by horse and carriage. All along the way, people waited eagerly to glimpse the Revolutionary War general and their first President.
Washington was a reluctant leader. As he inspired his soldiers through two wars, he saw himself serving his country, not leading it. When he accepted two terms as president, he saw himself serving God and his country in peacetime. He turned down a third term as president, wishing only to retire to his beautiful family home, Mount Vernon.Sydney Opera House
Americans celebrated Washington's birthday while he was still alive. They were grateful for a strong leader who had proven that democracy was a feasible way to govern the growing country. And, while he was alive, legends grew up about him. The most famous one says that he was so strong, he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. Some Americans argue that this is a true story. Parts of the Potomac River, they say, were extremely narrow a few hundred years ago! Another story which has never been proven, but Americans pass down to their children as a lesson: When George Washington was young, his father gave him a hatchet He tried to cut down a cherry tree with it. His father noticed the cuts on the tree, and asked his son how they got there. "I cannot tell a lie," George said, "I did it with my hatchet." Perhaps George Washington had no hatchet, and perhaps there were no cherry trees where he grew up. However, George Washington today represents honesty, and cherry pies have become a favorite food associated with his birthday.
Various communities observe the holiday by staging pageants and reenactments of important milestones in Washington's life. Also, the holiday has taken on another side, much more commercial in nature. Many shopping malls and stores run Presidents' Day sales to attract shoppers who have the day off from work or school.