Weekend Wanderer

Musings at Mount Vernon

Last Saturday was George Washington’s birthday.

I thought it proper on this Saturday to share my trip to his beautiful home, Mount Vernon.

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If you recall, Susie and I spent all of Saturday blitzing museums together (we also ate crab cakes!), which made for a very groggy morning. As usual, Susie had planned ahead for that:

Coffee Stop: The charming King Street Coffee!

Thank goodness for our coffee stop: the charming King Street Coffee!

Susie’s golden retriever never ceases to make me smile – dogs in general are so affectionate, but this golden really knows how to put on the charm. I miss his furry hugs!

Sam was the only one wide awake that morning

Sam was the only one wide awake that morning!

We hopped in the car with Susie’s parents, who graciously drove us there! It was a gorgeous Sunday morning:

The weather was perfection!

The weather was perfection!

I do realize how lucky I am, and it never seemed so clear as on that perfect morning in the Virginian countryside. Here I was with my best friend, on a cloudless day, seeing something that few weekend visitors to DC get the chance to see – what a treat!

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First sight of the mansion!

The tours of Mount Vernon are very well done by knowledgable guides with friendly smiles. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about our first president from people who so obviously respected the man.

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“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.” – George Washington

As we went on, I realized why they held this man in such esteem. I won’t try to write a biography about George Washington here, but I will tell you that I finally understand.

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“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” -G.W.

I understand why hundreds pledged their loyalty to him, why he was universally beloved. He was a man of great character, who spoke the truth without wavering, and without bullying:

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

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He was also a man of great style!

He showed incredible restraint and wisdom in all that he did, whether it was forming a fledgling government, or stepping down from a presidency when everyone wanted him to stay.

How often do we see that consideration of the greater good over personal gain in our society today? I’m not just talking about government, which seems a far cry from what Washington started, but what about individually?

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The back of the house, with a sweeping view of the Potomac

Here was a man who saw things as they were, who saw men for all their possibilities while still keeping in mind their shortcomings.

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

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The vivid hues inside reinforced the image of an unforgettable man, with a depth of character rarely seen today.

As we finished our tour of all the outbuildings and inventions that serve as a living testament to his practical ingenuity, I was a bit staggered by the amount of humble intelligence in this man.

He worked hard to run his estate, and he was constantly learning and growing. If anyone could motivate a country, it was George Washington, yet he didn’t abuse his power.

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“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master.” – George Washington

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