The best to which humanity can aspire

 

Monday is Presidents’ Day, a day ostensibly meant to honor the
birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but which has
largely become an excuse for a three-day weekend.
Monday is Presidents’ Day, a day ostensibly meant to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but which has largely become an excuse for a three-day weekend.

Many people still honor their respective birthdays – Feb. 12 and 22 – instead of the third Monday of February, which can never fall on either of the original days.

Their deep regard for both men is well-deserved because without them there would have been no United States.

Washington, born on Feb. 22, 1732, was the only man of his time who could have kept the fight for independence from England from being abandoned. His monumental patience, coupled with regard for the soldiers, strategic withdrawals and sudden attacks in the face of poor provisions, indifference by many of his countrymen and steady desertions held the colonies together until victory was finally hammered out. As the new nation’s first president, his sense of honor and dignity set the standard for his successors.

Lincoln, born in a log cabin on Feb. 12, 1809, had an astute mind and a compassion for others that seemed all-embracing. He led the United States through its greatest trial and was assassinated just as victory was realized.

We need heroes – people who seem larger than life-size – to admire and even emulate as much as we are capable of emulating them. Their presence shows us the best to which humanity can aspire.

Heroes need not have reached the highest office of government as Washington and Lincoln did but must have done something selfless for their fellow man at risk to themselves.

Athletes and show-business celebrities may win our admiration for their prowess or skill, but they are not heroes or heroines because of it.

The firemen rushing into the collapsing World Trade Center in hope of rescuing those trapped inside, the boy who dives into a raging river to save a drowning friend, the woman who interposes herself between a mad dog and a threatened child – those are heroes and heroines. Their thought of personal peril is obscured by the threat of danger to others.

Lincoln and Washington are true heroes, and so are thousands of other Americans not widely known who acted at a time when action was needed despite the danger entailed.

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