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February 17. 2013 4:31PM

Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: It's too bad we stopped listening to George


 

Happy Washington's Birthday.

It's a shame that Tricky Dick Nixon, of all Presidents, managed by executive order to hijack the federal holiday that, by law, remains named in honor of the Father of our Country, George Washington.

By custom, Washington's Farewell Address is read each year in the U.S. Senate, although not always on his actual birthday, which is Feb. 22 under the modern calendar.

The late Norris Cotton from New Hampshire once had the honor of reading the address. Last year, it was Jeanne Shaheen who did so.

Here is what Washington said about the need for religion and morality.

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

"A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?

"And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Translation: Good luck trying to maintain this new nation if we lose sight of morality and religion, and don't think that the nation's morality can prevail without religious principles.

That old George W. was one smart fella. It is too bad that we haven't paid more attention to what he had to say. If he said it today, he might get locked up for offending some atheist. Lucky for the U.S. senators, they are just reading something from the archives.

But I do wonder how many of them agree with Washington still.

Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com or via Twitter at?@deucecrew.


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