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Honoring leadership of U.S. presidents

2/16/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Anthony DeVitis

Guest column

Every year in the middle of what is typically a drab winter month we take time to recognize the lasting legacy of arguably the nation’s greatest president. This important day is not merely an opportunity for a long weekend, but instead is a chance to reflect on the history of our nation’s presidents, beginning, of course, with George Washington. His is a legacy that set the course for the 43 presidents that have come after him, resulting in 236 years of successful democracy in America.

President’s Day was originally implemented by an act of Congress in the late 1800s. The holiday was created to commemorate the accomplishments of Washington, who served as the nation’s first president from 1789 to 1797. It was the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen. Over time, President’s Day has grown to encompass a collective recognition for the office of the presidency while still giving special honor to George Washington and fellow February-born president Abraham Lincoln.

We often hear the phrase about “respecting the office of the presidency.” This, of course, does not mean that we should view our president as a supreme ruler or bow down to his ideas. Although he serves in the country’s highest office — the “leader of the free world” — he still is a servant of the people, like any other person holding elected office. However, sometimes our deeply divided political culture can lead us into not respecting the great responsibility and pressure that are bestowed upon our leaders.

We have seen this play out already this year as we await the upcoming presidential election. Instead of always playing partisan politics, I believe that taking time to recognize the work of exceptional presidents renews a sense of pride in our nation. At the same time it makes us appreciate the special system we have in place here in the United States, which gives citizens a direct voice in determining its leaders. While we might not always agree with the ideas of our presidents, our system at least allows us the opportunity to change course if we are unsatisfied with the president’s leadership.

Politics can be divisive, but Americans are marked by a track record of unity. We are a large country filled with many belief systems, yet we all gather together under the canopy of being Americans. Political ties fall to the wayside when considering the rich history of our nation, and President’s Day should be a day that is devoted to this country’s greatness.

State Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-District 43) may be reached by calling 614-466-1790, emailing District43@ohr.state.oh.us, or by mail at 77 S. High St., 13th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.

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