Picture it if you will: One of the most widely regarded military leaders to ever occupy the highest command, humbly steps down from his post in a small intimate tavern setting surrounded by his officers. He longs to return to the his beloved farm on the Potomac. His words are few and characteristically humble.
“With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable. I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.”
After this brief oration, he tearfully “embraces” each officer in attendance before relinquishing the tremendous power placed in his hands by a trusting citizenry. A fine and fitting farewell to those who had shared such travail and of course victory over the preceding eight long years.
Such was the reverence he had for the position bestowed upon him by those who entrusted him with the monumental task of leading the colonies forward on the quest for sovereignty. Oh how we long for the days of such grace and dignity!
As you may have guessed by now, that officer and gentleman is, of course, none other than the Commander of the Continental Army, George Washington. Of this resignation of near absolute military authority, King George III is believed to have said:
“If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
In this world in which fame and glory are sought by many at every turn, and souls are sold each and every day as so many clamor for the addictive adulation that often comes with such acclaim, it is almost impossible to conceive that we once had a leader who willingly walked away from all of the potential trappings of his wildly popular role as Standard Bearer for our fledgling nation.
But that he did and with thoughts only of his great love of country and an abiding belief in this young nation as beacon for liberty and hope.
As I researched and wrote this article, tears began to roll down my cheek as I pondered the near impossibility of what George Washington did on that day by walking away during the height of his unparalleled fame and popularity. Surely, had he desired a crown, the good people of America would have gladly placed one upon his head. But alas, he wished for no such royal coronation nor the power and opulence that often accompanies the title of king.
He understood better than most, that the desire for a monarch who would rule over his subjects is precisely what led to the Revolution in which he had just led the fight to gain independence.
Liberty is served, perhaps more than in other other way, by this gracious and humble mindset and of course a servant’s heart. Let us all strive to be more like Gentleman George.
“Think not that humility is weakness; it shall supply the marrow of strength to thy bones. Stoop and conquer; bow thyself and become invincible.” – Charles Spurgeon