Thirty years ago I was delighted to visit the town of Newburgh, New York. I enjoyed reading the plaques around town about where George Washington and his troops stayed.
Shortly after the battles ended the American Revolution, but before the peace had been negotiated, Washington was with his troops in Newburgh. They began to grow very restless because they hadn’t been paid. Washington had begged the Continental Congress to do what they said they would do and pay the soldiers, but they refused.
Some of the officers began to organize a rebellion. They talked about marching on Philadelphia, which was at that time the seat of our national government, and overthrowing that government and letting the army rule the nation.
With the fate of America in the balance, George Washington made a surprise appearance before these officers. After praising them for their service and thanking them for their sacrifice, he pulled from his pocket a copy of a speech that he wished to read.
But then he fumbled with a paper and finally reached for a set of reading glasses — glasses those men had never seen him wear before. Washington made this simple statement: “I have already grown grey in the service of my country, and now I am going blind.”
Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Instantly the rebellion melted into tears. It was a galvanizing moment, and the rebellion came to an end.” George Washington certainly earned the title history has given to him – “The Father of our Country.”
What does this story say to YOU not only about George Washington, but about the foundation our first President laid for those who would come after him and for our elected office-holders to follow today? Why do you say that?