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Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
P. B. Shelley

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Presidents Day First Ladies Day, too?

This is Presidents Day holiday weekend. It is the day we celebrate Washington and Lincoln's birthdays together instead of alternating the birthdays every year, one year Washington, one year Lincoln. And in this way we can look at all the Presidents and ponder which ones we like and which ones we don't. It is also a time to look at the office of the President and be thankful that George Washington decided on 8 years only for the length of the Presidency of each person who attained the office. Only one man broke that honored tradition which was FDR but I guess the times were beyond tradition. I don't know I wasn't born yet. He is definitely one of the Presidents I heard controversial and disparaging remarks about growing up. JFK, LBJ, Nixon were others that were very disparaged around me. Funny how time has made a nice patina on the images of these men and I have lived through the times long enough to put those people in categories, yes label them because the politics became so clear as time went on. Peer groups are like that and I have been very flexible and able to leave groups who really try to join me. Leave them as their politics go beyond the level of discussion and sink into the darkness on baseless fears and foolishness and lack of compassion for their fellow humans. I also have learned to say sympathizers and wisdom more often. Wisdom often transcends the times we are in. 

The draft during the Viet Nam War era and the poor economy that a long drawn-out war created made JFK, LBJ and Nixon unpopular presidents. But the Civl Rights Act was born and brought into being by JFK and LBJ. Nixon never liked the Viet Nam war but managed to finally end it disappointedly years too late for many young Americans my age who perished who returned home addicted to contraband from marijauna to heroine. LBJ's First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson reawoke the environmental movement in the US with her beautify America work and if you are interested in her work google her because it is worth it. Of course, we thank Richard Nixon for the EPA, the Endangered Species Act (he loved wolves and was deeply concerned for the eagles which we almost extinguished), the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Finally the draft was eliminated and our wars in the middle east have been fought without it. 

My favorite Presidents though are John Adams and his First Lady Abigail Adams who both were far thinking people who loved one another sincerely and cared so deeply for this country in is astounding their sacrifices. He asked George Washington to run for President because he had won the war, fought the battles, led the troops, could rally the people, even though he was a slave owner, something Adams and his wife were terribly opposed to. Adams knew he could never have framed the constitution and won our country without Washington. But it is John Adams who intricately fought a dedicated battle for truth and freedom from tyranny with his words and lawyer's wisdom and prayers. But Abigail knew we had incurred the disfavor with God by allowing slavery into our new country. Also she wanted women to be educated, she could read and write because her father was a minister and taught her. John Adams, a man ahead of his time wanted something for the people in the way of medical coverage and more research and care for mental illness, having watched a dear friend fall into an abyss and put into Bedlam during the Revolutionary War. He instinctively knew there could be more care and knowledge available here. God bless you President Adams for your forethought, this 21st c. we have reached parity in insurance and recognized mental illness (brain disease) as a medical condition, improved conditions for treatment and continue research for medicine and treatments that can put the disease in remission or at least keep the symptoms in control.

My second favorite president is Abraham Lincoln but everyone reads and knows about him and his tenure in the White House. I love his language and thought behind his speeches. Another lawyer who dedicated his knowledge and abilities to freedom from tyranny and inspiration for the people of the USA.

My third favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt, and that is because of his love of this land. Lincoln recognized the environmental movement that had been born in California with the redwood forests and John Muirs love of Yosemite and the Sierra Mountain Range. I first ran into T. Roosevelt when I spent part of a summer studying geology in the Black Hills, South Dakota. In the descent into the Jewel Cave I realized this President had been there and was awestruck as I was by the beauty of this cave and others and the treasures of the Black Hills. It wasn't just a place where there was gold. He loved the National Parks system. He also wanted some kind of federal health plan to help people. 

Maybe I admire these men because these presidents helped shape this country, protected it internally, cleaned it up, or guided it when the world was crashing headlong into a cataclysmic energy that we are trying to brake or rein in perhaps futilely to this day. These men would want us to do whatever we could to stop our pollution and contributions to climate change.  

But they also all served before there were such things as world wars, thermonuclear bombs and other means of wiping out civilizations, communism, empty commercialism, and global warming. They still had an innocence about them, an idealism and love of the world. I hope so anyway. Today I heard in a sermon that the term "New World Order" was coined in the late 1700's.

Whoever you admire or dispise, I hope this government is worth thinking about and observing a holiday to honor its leaders.

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