Gift #566: President’s Day

President’s Day is one of those days that I tend to overlook.  Other than not getting mail, it seems like there’s not much impact – no decorations, no special meals, no advertising.   So I decided to do something about it this year and I spent some time reading through quotes and speeches by several of our presidents.  I thought it was very interesting to read from presidents representing over 200 years of history in one sitting.  As I did this, several common themes became apparent.  It was as if our presidents spoke across history with one voice.  We’ve had presidents from every background and walk of life, spanning multiple economic classes, political ideologies, and religious beliefs.  Each president has been unique, but all participate in a common legacy.  Our presidents put a high value on hard work being the foundation of our economy and a source of personal satisfaction.  They were convinced that the success of our nation depended on the morality and integrity of the citizenry.  Nearly every president I read emphasized the importance of a man’s character – his ability to stand fast in righteousness, to fight for his cause, and to properly discern between good and evil.  Closely tied to this, many presidents felt the strength of the nation could be gauged by how well it protected the helpless, not by how much wealth the country generated or the size of our military.  Interestingly, most of our presidents maintained a healthy dose of skepticism about their office, government in general, and especially about large banking institutions.  Our presidents believe that doing something is better than doing nothing and that decisive, strong action in the face of threats was the most preferred option.  All the presidents were strongly devoted to education, reading, sharing ideas, and the freedom to criticize.  As I read our presidents, I wondered what accounted for this cohesiveness of thought from such a diverse group.  Could it be an intentional repetition of the past to impart authority to one’s words? Or simply saying what the public wanted to hear?   Was it an attempt to cultivate a feeling of patriotism?  Or did each president truly believe in these ideals?  I have no idea of the answer, but clearly our presidents have made the most of their office to impart to each successive generation the ideals they believed characterized America.  And we owe our national identity to these men who have led our country.  And so, without further ado, here are some of my favorite presidents to  provide you with a snapshot of their wisdom.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.” Abraham Lincoln

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

“You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” Woodrow Wilson

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”  Franklin Roosevelt

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose”.  John Kennedy

Blessings to you,


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