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The Birthday Of George Washington

( Originally Published 1916 )

The birthday of the Father of his Country! May it ever be freshly remembered by American hearts ! May it ever reawaken in them a filial veneration for his memory; ever rekindle the fires of patriotic regard for the country which he loved so well, to which he gave his youthful vigor and his youthful energy; to which he devoted his life in the maturity of his powers, in the field; to which again he offered the counsels of his wisdom and his experience as president of the convention that framed our Constitution; which he guided and directed while in the chair of state, and for which the last prayer of his earthly supplication was offered up, when it came the moment for him so well, and so grandly, and so calmly, to die. He was the first man of the time in which he grew. His memory is first and most sacred in our love, and ever hereafter, till the last drop of blood shall freeze in the last American heart, his name shall be a spell of power and of might.

Yes, gentlemen, there is one personal, one vast felicity, which no man can share with him. It was the daily beauty and towering and matchless glory of his life which enabled him to create his country, and at the same time secure an undying love and regard from the whole American people. " The first in the hearts of his countrymen ! " Yes, first ! He has our first and most fervent love. Undoubtedly there were brave and wise and good men before his day, in every colony. But the American nation, as a nation, I do not reckon to have begun before 1774, and the first love of that young America was Washington. The first word she lisped was his name. Her earliest breath spoke it. It still is her proud ejaculation; and it will be the last gasp of her expiring life! Yes; others of our great men have been appreciated—many admired by all—but him we love; him we all love. About and around him we call up no dissentient, discordant, and dissatisfied elements—no sectional prejudice nor bias—no party, no creed, no dogma of politics. None of these shall assail him. Yes; when the storm of battle blows darkest and rages highest, the memory of Washington shall nerve every American arm and cheer every American heart. It shall relume that Promethean fire, that sublime flame of patriotism, that devoted love of country, which his words have commended, which his example has consecrated.

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