Even though our country celebrated it – to the extent we did – on Monday, today is George Washington’s actual birthday.
He was highly respected, held in the highest esteem and practically venerated by his contemporaries, he is wildly underappreciated today. I’ve just finished a biography by Richard Brookhiser; in Founding Father, Brookhiser digs into the man with the universally recognized name and ubiquitous face we modern Americans actually know very little about.
Turns out, the stuffy looking guy on the $1 bill was actually a pretty tough cat, a great politician, an erudite and eloquent philosopher, an amazing guerilla general who was among the world’s first to understand the concept of long war, and a brilliantly modern spymaster. Oh, he also, apparently, had a nasty temper he had to work hard to control.
Because of this sad mismatch between Washington’s modern image and his living reality, it’s completely fitting his country celebrates him on a day that isn’t even his real birthday.
Happy birthday, George.