Years ago I received a very special book during the holidays, General Washington's Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming, 1783, from a dear friend, a USMC Colonel (ret.) and fellow history buff. We worked together at the State Department many moons ago and to this day The Colonel always has the best reading recommendations whenever I require insight on an issue of geopolitical or historical import. I reread Washington's Christmas Farewell every holiday season as a reminder that greatness comes not from what we accomplish but from what we give in service to others. From what we sacrifice. From deep reservoirs of humility and empathy towards others.
I find this book fascinating because it also shows a very personal side of Washington, one that is a devoted, caring husband as well as an admired military leader. Such a rare combination in modern day portrayals of masculinity. This story is small but powerful and its lessons timeless. If only every elected official in D.C. and across the country would read this over the holiday break perhaps we might inspire the seeds of a new kind of leadership this spring. One can only hope.