Remember what presidency means

The occupants of the White House change every four or eight years, but America always represents the high ideal of peaceful domestic power to the rest of the world.

That’s something that’s important to remember as we celebrate Presidents Day.

The holiday has become little more than a day off of work or school for many. It should, however, be a day to reflect, to honor and to give thanks, because in this age of instant news coverage and constant popularity polling, the concept of honoring the president has become an unknown quantity.

Today is the combination of days that had originally been set aside to honor Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but it should be about much more. It’s a chance to allow all Americans to honor the American presidency, the peaceful transfer of power the executive branch of the United States government represents, and the symbol of leadership that resides in the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.

Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732, in Wakefield, Va., and Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hodgenville, Ky. Both came from the American heartland of their day. Both served the nation in such admirable ways that both are honored with monuments in Washington.

Generations of students have been taught that Washington stood for integrity and honesty, and that Lincoln stood for freedom for all – and for understanding that no one is less equal than anyone else.

And, while it’s become fashionable to try to tear down those legends, it’s comforting to know that millions of people around the world developed a new appreciation of Lincoln’s story through the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln,” in which actor Daniel Day-Lewis earned last year’s best actor award for his portrayal of the 16th president.

As Americans, we are free to disagree with our politicians, and in case you have any doubts, just ask the last two men who have held that office – current President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush. That’s not the lesson of today, though. Whatever side your politics falls on, remember what the office of the presidency stands for and remember that we can never win the hearts and minds of the residents of the world if we stop believing in our institutions.

That’s something to think about today.