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Washington makeover

Monday, February 18, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM

"What do you mean America's youth don't know who George Washington was?"

"Dude?"

"He was our first president, our best president and one of the primary reasons the experiment called America was able to work. But of course they don't teach you that in school anymore."

"Dude?"

"Scholars and historians deemed Washington to be our greatest president in a Wall Street Journal survey. But another survey shows that Washington's coverage in history textbooks has declined to less than 10 percent of what it was in the early 1960s."

"Dude?"

"Sure, to your generation Washington was just a boring old guy. He isn't as captivating as the pop singers, movie stars and professional athletes you worship. That's why the people at Mount Vernon, Washington's estate, had to raise $110 million dollars to reshape Washington's image."

"Dude?"

"The Mount Vernon people constructed a new orientation center, education center and museum right on the grounds of Mount Vernon. These new facilities, which opened in October 2006, feature the story of a younger, studlier George Washington."

"Dude?"

"The presentations are designed to appeal to short-attention-span kids like you who get most of their information from MTV. A 15-minute film uses action-packed techniques to feature Washington's significant accomplishments."

"Duuuuude?"

"No, the film and multimedia presentations do not feature Washington blowing up terrorists, nor does Arnold Schwarzenegger costar. But they do tell the story of a remarkable man."

"Dude?"

"Did you know that Washington was born into a modestly well-to-do family? What little education he got was given to him by his father and stepbrother. He was a farmer and surveyor and through some inheritance, shrewd business dealings and hard work, he grew his fortune."

"Dude?"

"From early on he was a natural leader. He had an imposing presence, standing nearly 6'3" at a time when the average man was about 5'8". And he was invincible. During one battle in the French and Indian war, four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him, yet he was unscathed."

"Dude?"

"He represented the rebellious American spirit, you see, and he led the charge to break away from the restrictions and regulations of the British. In 1775, he took command of our motley crew of an army and led it in a war that lasted six grueling years."

"Dude?"

"And, dude, he didn't have much chance of winning against the British. Nonetheless, he used American ingenuity to completely outwit them. He retreated when they expected him to fight, he fought when they expected him to retreat. Many historians believe that no other man could have won this war. Without Washington, America's history would have been completely different."

"Dude?"

"After he beat the British, he was so popular he could have become a king. Instead, he used his immense power to help establish our Constitution, which grants power to us little folks. Then he reluctantly became our first president. He wanted nothing to do with the job, but knew our fledgling government needed his leadership to survive."

"Dude?"

"After eight long years as president, Washington finally returned to his beloved Mount Vernon to farm and enjoy life. But he lived only three years in retirement before dying at the young age of 67."

"Dude?"

"The point is, dude, that one man can make a remarkable difference in the world. Washington was truly a hero -- a man who lived his life by simple virtues and a sense of duty. Without Washington, the experiment we call America might not have worked."

"Dude?"

"That is why the people at Mount Vernon have gone to so much trouble to make sure we don't forget Washington's incredible story. I urge you to visit Mount Vernon soon and learn all you can about this remarkable man. Now do you have any questions?"

"Dude?"

"Oh, for goodness sakes. Yes, it's true that Washing-ton grew hemp, also known as marijuana. But he used it to make rope and clothing. He didn't smoke it."

"Duuuuude."

TOM PURCELL is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated.

     

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