I gazed out the window this weekend across the hot desert thinking George Washington would have liked some of this heat at Valley Forge.
Our most famous founding father, first army commander and first president took a lot of heat from all directions during the years that he led the fight against the British troops.
Congress never gave him much money and no salary, the soldiers were volunteers with short-term enlistments and he had to steal a lot of his guns and ammunition from the British.
We just celebrated the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence like that is all it took to gain our freedom from Great Britain.
How did we ever get the idea that King George took that piece of paper and said, "Gee, if those colonists don't want to be part of England, they can just go it on their own"?
The colonists had been fighting the British for more than a year before July 4, 1776.
During that year, George Washington had led the Continental Army to a series of defeats that lost Boston and New York to the British.
He had lost most of his army and fired some generals.
He did not have or need "embedded" journalist to carry the story to the colonies.
There were spies everywhere and a good portion of the residents remained loyal to England.
He won his first victory crossing the Delaware River Dec.
The war went on for several years after July 4, 1776.
Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 effectively ending any chance Britain had to win the war but British General Sir Henry Clinton did not march his troops out of New York City until December 1783.
Imagine how long the war would have lasted with the kind of impatience Americans are showing with the battle in Iraq.
We have been in Iraq about six months.
Congress gave Washington little financial support and his officers were sometimes tried and convicted for treason.
Yet, Washington kept himself focused on his troops and the goal that eventually resulted in our freedoms today.
He surely would have quit if he had held a focus group or taken a Gallup poll.
He was not a popular guy during much of the war.
Washington retired to Mt.
Vernon after the war ended to restore his farm and fortune.
His fame came much later.
The colonies continued the fight by arguing with each other about the kind of government this country would have.
No state wanted to give up any power to the central government.
It was not until 1789, 13 years after July 4, 1776, that they hammered out a constitution and elected George Washington president.
Today, we argue about what the framers of the constitution thought and what they were thinking when they wrote the document.
Sometimes I wonder if they knew what they meant.
The Constitution is full of compromises made to get 13 colonies to vote "yes."
It amazes me that Washington was willing to become president after all the criticism he took during the fighting.
I expect he ws enjoying some quiet time at Mt.
I can see why President George W.
Bush escapes to his ranch in Crawford, Texas whenever he can, even for short periods.
I thank God we have had some strong leaders at times of crisis and great change in this country.
Washington was the first.
Lincoln led us through a critical time in the Civil War.
Teddy Roosevelt led us through our teenage years when the country became a world power.
Roosevelt led us through a depression and a devastating worldwide war.
Ronald Reagan led us to victory in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Only history will tell us if we are in another defining world period with the fight against terrorism and if Bush 43 is the man to lead us through it.
But, few presidents during critical times have been without intense criticism by the media, Congress and parts of the public.
I wonder at times if I appreciate the prosperity, the freedoms and all the toys available in this country.
I did experience some of the Great Depression, WW II, and the end of the Cold War.
I also ignored my older relatives that told me about earlier periods of American life.
They tried to share with me as a youngster but I was not smart enough to take advantage of their experiences.
I guess that is why we learn so little from history and do it all over again.