The moderation and virtue of a single character …probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.– Thomas Mifflin, in his response to Washington’s Resignation Speech at Annapolis
The words above were part of a speech drafted by Thomas Jefferson to be read by Thomas Mifflin at an event so great, it “excited the astonishment and admiration of the world!”- John Trumbull
At the war’s end, he stood alone at the pinnacle of power, but he never became drunk with that influence, as had so many generals before him, and treated his commission as a public trust to be returned as soon as possible to the people’s representatives.*
On this Memorial Day, we must honor those who have paid the ultimate price in service to their country in two ways. First, we must acknowledge in our mind, their steadfast adherence to the values above in the selflessness of their public service. Second, we must question in our hearts what each of us has done with the public trust so nobly bequeathed to us. What have we done to hold and protect these values?
I do not have to name the public servant on this day, whose very presence defiles the honor and memory of the fallen. His name is written on a list of names in the places of your heart you’d rather forget. But our forgetfulness has only begotten us the longer list.
The energy that stands at the same pinnacle of power today, is the very antithesis of the one that so selflessly relinquished it in Annapolis 228 years ago. Can we finally shake the heart awake this day, acknowledge the very traitors of these values in our midst and flush them out of the offices they have so arrogantly dishonored? Can we afford not to?
They did not die for us to wave flags. They died for us…to live for them, as they would have! By the grace of God, we must honor them by doing so!
* From Washington, A Life by Ron Chernow