I doubt it’s ever taught in school today – seems the NEA has different ideas about what our kids need to know. But most adults over 40 surely are familiar with the story told of young George Washington, who’d been given a small hatchet for his birthday.
So, eager to try it out, the boy looked for something on which he could use his new hatchet. And he found it – a little cherry tree. When his father found that a perfectly good cherry tree had been destroyed, he asked George if he knew what had happened. “Father, I cannot tell a lie,” said the future first president of the United States of America, “I did it.”
An insignificant story, perhaps, just a little morality tale for kids. No one today can verify whether it actually happened or not. I, for one, believe it did, mainly because of its apparent insignificance. If there weren’t in fact a basis for the story, who would make it up? Surely a fableist would conjure up something more dramatic than a little boy cutting down a cherry tree with his new hatchet.
But what makes it significant is that it underscores, from a very early age, the character of the man who became our first president – and a role model for all who would follow him into that office. Throughout his distinguished military career, his political leadership and his virtually unanimously elected two terms as president of the United States, his honesty was never questioned.
In fact, his admiring friend Thomas Jefferson wrote about George Washington: “His integrity was the most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man.”
Is it any wonder, then, that for nearly 200 years, parents and teachers have pointed to the man we call “the father of our country” as an example for our kids to emulate? That, too, makes the story of the apple tree meaningful and important; children from their earliest years can understand the moral and learn a valuable lesson.
Now, contrast the story of Washington and the lifelong accounts of his honesty, his truth-telling, with a couple of contemporary examples. Which American president will forever be remembered for these words: “Listen to me,” accompanied with finger-pointing for added emphasis, “I did not have sex with that woman …”?
That statement, purporting to be truth, was spoken fervently to the whole nation on television. Not from the back yard by a telltale tree. And then it was repeated, under oath, before a federal grand jury. When asked for further explanation about just what had happened in the Oval Office, that president said, “Well, it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” Subsequently, under immediate threat of impeachment, President Clinton confessed to what had happened, and that he had lied to members of Congress and his Cabinet, to his wife and daughter – and to the whole nation that had elected him their leader.
That’s quite a long way from George Washington. Maybe we should have kept telling our kids about the cherry tree, in school and at home. Especially in light of the statistics that reveal what an alarming percentage of our kids emulate President Clinton’s actions in the Oval Office, professing, “Oh, it’s not sex; it’s just what the president did!” Only (as Oprah revealed on TV recently) kids are doing it on dates and even in school closets during the day.
Now we come to our current president, in whom so many hopes and dreams have been vested. A family man who professed during his campaign that he strongly supported marriage as between a man and a woman. A father who said he personally opposed abortion, though he believed in a woman’s “right to choose.” A presidential hopeful who said he would veto any and all earmarks – “pork” – that congressmen tried to sneak into appropriations bills.
This president professed to have become a Christian while a member for 20 years of the Trinity United Church of Christ whose pastor was one Jeremiah Wright. Yes, the raging minister we heard repeatedly on TV braying, “God bless America? No! God d— America!”
Then-candidate Obama swore he’d never heard anything like that from his pastor – during the 20 years he was a member – and ultimately disavowed and sort of condemned the statement and some others that followed.
But in the short time he’s been president, he’s done and said things that absolutely contradict what he said previously.
The “family man” who reveres marriage as between a man and a woman just signed an executive order (not mandated by the people or their representatives) providing taxpayer-funded support and entitlements to the same sex “partners” of government employees. And to the homosexual constituents who believe they helped elect Obama, and they certainly did, this executive order isn’t nearly enough to please them. They want a lot more.
The father who “opposes” abortion, on becoming president, signed his first executive order – committing $200,000,000 of taxpayer funds to international Family Planning, the chief provider of abortions in the world!
The president who, as a candidate, promised to veto any and all earmarks signed his first appropriations bill, a $410 billion dollar monstrosity, which contained 8,570 earmarks! His explanation was that all these projects had already been inserted by the current (Democrat) Congress, and he didn’t feel he should veto them. This while committing trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds, without our consent or even discussion to bail out financial institutions and take control of the auto industry and start creating a socialist America.
And the Christian president announced: “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” and we could even be deemed “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” He said America had been “arrogant,” and that after 9/11 this country had behaved “contrary to our ideals.” You know – it sounds as if he had heard a few of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons after all – and may have said “amen” a few times.
As we currently honor our fathers, let’s honor and thank God for the “father of our country.” And pray that, before it’s too late, He might give us another George Washington.