Mount Vernon is the 18th century Georgian-style mansion located on the Potomac River in Virginia just sixteen miles from Washington, DC. The mansion that George Washington called home is situated on a 50 acre plantation which is now a living heritage museum and a national historic landmark. George and Martha Washington lived here for forty years, and many of their possessions including George’s diary, library, personal items, and Martha’s china and tableware are among the 500 artifacts now accessible to the public.
George Washington was an Amazing Man
We all love our American heroes, but George Washington’s legacy in unparalleled, which is one reason his home is so interesting. It reflects the man who lived there. It was his refuge. His character, ingenuity, sense for innovation, love of farming, and eye for American beauty are embedded in the spirit of Mount Vernon.
Aside from being a military hero and the first President of the United States, Washington had a vision for a new government that stood separate from his own self perception. Few leaders who create life-changing initiatives and inspire others to die for the cause can remove themselves as a pivotal component in the eventual dream and its legacy. But that’s what Washington did when he resigned his military commission in front of Congress in Annapolis, and rejected the offer to be king of the new fledgling country. He forged the path for America to be different – to aspire to being a government where the people ruled.
But while I’m writing about American heroes, I’d like to mention my Uncle, Antonio Granados. Uncle Tony is a retired US Marine Major who served as a fighter pilot with tours in the Korean War. Tony was born to Spanish immigrant parents in Maryland and is an East Coast native. He’s a great historian, a remarkable conversationalist, and one of my favorite writers. At 90 years old, he gets around plenty, and through his daily emails keeps us Granados’ informed about family members around the world, current events and whatever else he’s interested in.
Uncle Tony recently toured Mount Vernon and gave an insightful perspective on what the average visitor experiences. I thought it was worth sharing on the Travel Hag blog. NOTE: The last paragraph has an interesting tidbit of military history and tradition.
Uncle Tony – on Mount Vernon
Saturday, Dan Salvatore and I drove down to Mount Vernon to visit George Washington’s home. Dan had never been there but I had been there about four times since 1941. We did a lot of walking up and down the Mount of Mount Vernon and I must confess that it’s an effort that’s more than a walk in the park.
GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS ALWAYS DRAWN BACK TO HIS HOME
If you’ve never been to Mount Vernon, you should go there to get an idea of why George Washington wanted so desperately to go back to his lovely home to continue his life as a farmer. Instead, being the great patriot that he was, he spent his time in a war to birth a new nation with a new concept of the governed governing themselves through representative government.
This was a novel idea in the world of Kings, Emperors, Generals and Popes…all dictators in disguise. Some by birthright, some through armies, some through politics and some though coups. The idea that people could govern themselves through representatives was as crazy, in those days, as trying to fly by flapping your arms. And, it would never have been successful if it had not been for George Washington.
THE NATION’S BEST PRESIDENT
Washington gave us our freedom as a nation and, it was our good fortune that he hung around long enough to get the idea off the ground and running. Every act that he did was a precedent. It had never been done before in that context. When I hear the stupid question: “Who was our greatest President?” I wonder how the questioner could have ever gotten out of grammar school. We wouldn’t have a nation if it were not for George Washington.
If you live on the East Coast, it’s your obligation, as a citizen, to visit Mount Vernon and pay homage to the man who made it possible for you to do so.
MILITARY RITUALS – TRIBUTE TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Dan and I also learned that, when a U.S. Navy or Coast Guard vessel goes up the Potomac River and passes Mount Vernon, the ship’s company is lined up on the deck, the ship’s flag is lowered to half mast and then all hands render the hand salute as they pass Mount Vernon in tribute to George Washington.
A visit to Mount Vernon is a good thing. Try it sometime.