The Committee for the Republic and the Friends of Liberty hosted a birthday celebration for George Washington in the Town Hall in Little Washington Sunday afternoon. George Washington was portrayed by Kevin Grantz, the leader of the Richmond-based Virginia Patriots which conducts colonial re-enactments, including the famous Saint John’s Episcopal Church “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech by Patrick Henry. Grantz has portrayed Washington for 27 years. Mayor John Sullivan designated Washington as the grand marshall at the last Christmas parade.
Mayor Sullivan welcomed “George” back to the town named for him. Also dressed in colonial costumes were Thomas Paine, portrayed by me, James Madison (Bruce Fein) and Alexander Hamilton (Bill Nitze). Thomas Paine complimented Washington for his success in winning independence from Great Britain, presiding over the Constitutional Convention and serving as the first President of the United States.
After recalling the first time he set foot here when he surveyed the town as a young man, Washington reviewed the main points in his famous presidential farewell address years later: Avoid the accumulation of public debt, be on guard against “overgrown military establishments,” resist partisanship, steer clear of entangling alliances and passionate attachments to foreign countries. Paine thanked Washington for his timeless advice and said it was too bad that we are not following any of it. Washington worried that citizens no longer demand adherence to the Constitution.
Each of the founding fathers said that war poses the greatest threat to our Republic. Madison criticized spending $1.2 trillion yearly on “security” and exploding our national debt to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Madison said citizens must choose between liberty and permanent war. He said it is futile and self-defeating to seek a risk-free existence. A people of sheep, he said, will beget a government of wolves. Madison deplored the surveillance state run by the National Security Agency.
Washington thanked the 65 people who came out in the snow to share his birthday with him. After answering questions on a range of subjects, he said it was not possible to have a Republic without knowledgeable and vigilant citizens. Washington asked each citizen present to do everything he or she could to reclaim the Republic he gave them.
John B. Henry