Dead Presidents

Awesome but not perfect.

Mark McMillion
4 min readFeb 14, 2021

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Photos courtesy of Wikimedia

Monday, February 15th is President’s Day. It’s the Federal holiday that was once established to observe George Washington’s birthday (February 22d) but has evolved into three things. First, we honor all American presidents; two, it’s a federal holiday; and three, it’s the opportunity for retail businesses to juice February with big sales.

While initially to celebrate the birth of George Washington, it also came to be associated with Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is February 12th. The day was made the Federal holiday it is now by Congressional action in 1968 to take effect in 1971.

I love superheroes. I have ever since I can remember. I especially like the superheroes of my childhood because they didn’t have dark sides. They weren’t flawed, brooding, guilt-ridden, or anything but gloriously heroic. I want my heroes to be perfect. Sadly, that’s not where the market has taken superheroes now as they are all painted with flaws (except the cinematic Captain America who is as he should be — perfect).

But I have other heroes than the fictional variety. I’m an enormous fan of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin, and many others. None of them are perfect either. Washington owned slaves, Lincoln was slow to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, Roosevelt was a belligerent nationalist, both Hamilton and Franklin were womanizers. Although not a personal hero, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and fathered children by them.

Rarely have I ever heard someone proclaim them as perfect. I have heard many arguments from people wanting to highlight their shortcomings. While all those men clearly fell short in certain areas, their contributions to the United States of America are tremendous. They all shaped this great Nation in enormously positive ways.

George Washington actively discouraged establishing himself as a king. He fought to ensure there was no formal royalty in America. He willingly stepped down as President after two terms, setting the precedent observed ever after (except for Franklin D. Roosevelt). After FDR’s power grab, the 22d Amendment set Washington’s example in stone. Washington was also human. He had a family and had to make a living. He owned slaves. Despite repeatedly voicing his…

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Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.