The celebration was a consolidation of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday. It has come to be the celebration of every president. That concept may be offensive to my contemporaries that have taken to hating presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama. We judge these presidents on their policies, but most of us have come to the conclusion that despite what we like and don’t like they serve in a difficult position.
Regardless of their own self-interest that we, and even they, believe drives them, the fact is, the job requires enormous personal sacrifice. And I am sure that they often would like to tell some detractor to take a hike. I know I would.
A few months ago I watched a documentary called "41" on HBO. It was about George H. W. Bush. It was not the most critical piece that could have been done, but it was interesting and revealing. I came away with a lot more appreciation of the man.
Here is a truncated version of that letter
"We come from dramatically different beginnings, but we do have some things in common.
We are both the product of loving parents. We both experienced a world where we were more likely to pull together. Patriotism was truly felt rather than being a bumper sticker. We both have a deep relationship with the ocean. I experienced my relationship with the ocean from early childhood as you did. I also served in the peacetime Coast Guard under President Eisenhower. And I too enjoyed the ocean in Maine, as well as Long Island. A few years ago I started sky diving.
My Family owned Fazio’s Restaurant in York Maine for many years. My son Andrew managed it until 4 ½ years ago. His mother was dying of cancer in New York, and he wanted to be with her. The restaurant property was sold to York Hospital. Andy now lives in Waterboro Maine and he operates an energy conservation company. We get together several times each year. Sometimes I’ll come to Maine, other times he will come our house in Centerport or on the barrier island off Long Island………My point of this letter is to simply say. Thank you."
At the end of the letter I mentioned my son Andy again and pointed out that he lived not far from him. I wrote that he would probably get a kick out of receiving a congratulatory note on his newly formed energy conservation business. I included Andy’s address.
A few weeks later I received a letter from Mr. Bush thanking me for my kind words. The tone of the letter was very humble and down to earth. It brought a smile to my face. He did not mention my son, but a few days later I received a call from Andy. When I said hello I heard. "Hey Dad, you writing letters to people, I received a letter from President Bush congratulating me on my new business. How about that" Yeah! How about that.
Yes, the venerated president’s, Lincoln and Washington should be thanked for their great contributions, but we owe a tip of the hat to all of our presidents and appreciate their service. They are more like us than we give them credit for.