Do you know who John Tyler was? What was your first thought? What about James Garfield? No, that is not the full name of the cat in the cartoon! Both of these men are past Presidents of The United States. This week we celebrate Presidents' Day. Do you know who the twelfth president of the US was? Quick, no running through some poem or little song in your head you learned in third grade. I have no idea who he was; I'm not even going to try and lie about it. Do you know which President died one month into office? Or who the tallest President was? Do you know how many Presidents never attended college or which President was responsible for the annexation of Texas? Isn't it amazing that this is a day that we set aside each year to honor these men, and yet we know so little about them. What did you do February 21st to celebrate Presidents' Day?
There really are no traditions set aside for Presidents' Day as there are for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some people get a holiday; some don't. However, this nation has been shaped and molded by the actions of these men we refer to as Presidents. These 44 men have served this country in a way that is unimaginable to me. Most of them go into office facing insurmountable odds. They are expected to make split second life alternating decisions, bring people together in times of stress and strife, and fight for the American way. It's really hard for me to fathom how they juggle all this, and still try to make time for their personal life. There was actually only one president who was never married. Hmmmm, wondering who he was aren't you? It was James Buchanan. If you said, oh yeah...you did not know that! Maybe the tradition that we can start is to try and honor these men with our actions and our choices.
As Americans we too have the ability to give back like all these men who we will be remembering. No, you are not a commander-in-chief, although sometimes SJ does tell me I act as if I am. However, we can emulate these men and the oaths they took when they placed their hand on the Bible on Inauguration Day. We can be difference makers and take part in the same ideals and principals that they did. Our choices and our actions can have an impact on the prosperity of our country. Let's choose not to make racial statements; let's choose not to use profanity; let's choose to be helpful to others; let's choose to be responsible; let's choose to be kind to each other; let's choose to make every effort we can to do the right thing; let's choose to always tell the truth....does that sound difficult to you? It sounds Presidential to me. It can do nothing but strengthen this country's foundation if we abide by these choices. These men believed they could make a difference and that is why they ran for office. You do not have to run for President to adopt these characteristic traits. You can make a difference even if you are not the President.
This situation somewhat mirrors our adoption of Michael Oher. Adoption is a wonderful thing, and I highly recommend it, yet it is not for everyone. We tell people even if you don't adopt, there is something you can do in the life of a child to improve his or her lot in life. The same theory applies here. You don't have to run for the office of President, yet you can have a presidential attitude and leave your footprint on this country. Let's look at our founding fathers, reflect on their leadership, their bravery, and their belief in this great country of ours and maybe we can create some meaningful change. The current system seems to need a little adjusting to say the least. Our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said it so well, "Our real problem, then is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow." Are you making good choices for tomorrow? Use all the skills you have been blessed with to create a lifetime of tomorrows for our county. Make this Presidents' Day one in which you start a new tradition of reevaluating your commitment to doing what's right. It will ensure long term success for our nation and hopefully grow men of character who will be future Presidents! By the way, the 12th president was Zachary Taylor. William Henry Harrison died one month into office. Lincoln was the tallest president, 8 presidents never attended college and John Tyler was responsible for the annexation of Texas! Happy Presidents' Day.
Photo credit: yorgak on Flickr.
Search AARP Blogs