While George Washington’s actual birthday is Feb. 22, large crowds gathered at his estate outside Alexandria, Virginia, to celebrate and learn a little more about the nation’s first president.
As part of the ceremonies, visitors learned about one thing Gen. Washington was very familiar with — musket fire.
- More Local News
- More Virginia News
Mount Vernon’s bowling green was marched upon by the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, who demonstrated 18th century battlefield tactics, including a bayonet charge.
The Old Guard also assisted by laying the annual ceremonial wreath at Washington’s tomb located on the expansive Potomac-backed estate.
While many enjoyed the day’s free entrance, most wished to learn a little more about the nation’s first president.
“We really enjoyed going inside the house and just lying on the back of the lawn and overseeing the Potomac. It was beautiful,” one visitor, who was accompanied by his young daughter, told WTOP.
Matt Briney, the vice president of media and communications at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, said the location was primed to celebrate the president’s 291st Birthday, especially since the previous two years were affected by COVID precautions.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to come out here, celebrate at Mount Vernon, learn a little bit more about the man and try to emulate a little bit of his life,” said Briney.
Staff at Mount Vernon call the estate George Washington’s autobiography. It’s a place where you will learn lesser-known facts about the first president, such as his excellent skills as a horseman and as a dancer.
The most important lesson about the man that Briney and the estate hoped visitors took away from the day was Washington’s enduring example of handing over power.
“What he really gave to the world was the act of giving up power… After the Revolutionary War, he stepped aside, resigned his commission return to private life,” Briney told WTOP. “And then, during the presidency after his second term, he gave up power establishing that tradition that there would be no king for America.”
He added, “I think these are the things that are very unique when you look at other countries and republics around the world and their revolutions sometimes lead to a dictatorship or a king for life.”
But what does Washington think about all the hoopla and celebrating of him and other presidents?
“It is most humbling, I hope to be worthy of such approbation. But I cannot imagine that there’s any man who would,” Washington told WTOP. (OK, it was actually a reenactor but the resemblance was uncanny). “We are simply citizens who have been elevated to office. We are not kings, we are not emperors and we are certainly not gods.”
“Washington” was also on site posing with visitors for self-portraits. He gave them words of advice from his presidential experience:
“What is most important is that one always try to do what is right,” he said. “Whether you will succeed or fail is not of consequence. What matters is that you tried to do what is correct.”