George Washington’s birthday should be a history lesson for all. Having said that, I’ve never really been a history buff and my memory of our 1st President’s heroics were pretty sparse until I received a call from a young girl writing a paper about Marietta. “Mr. Wharff, can you tell me where George Washington camped in Marietta?” Thinking that the polite young lady had a wrong number, I explained that I worked at a radio station not the museum. She went on to say that someone told her to check with me at the radio station because they were certain I would know something like this. Humbled by the comment, I proceeded to tell the young lady to inform her mother i would be calling her that evening at home, and I reset my course for the day.
Hold on tight, because here comes the lesson. The quick search finds that during the American Revolutionary war, this surveyor, George Washington, told his friend, General Rufus Putnam, of the beauty he had seen in his travels through the Ohio Valley and his ideas for settling the territory. In 1788, George Washington, the first president of these young United States had this to say about Marietta: "No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum. If I was a young man, just preparing to begin the world, or if advanced in life and had a family to make provision for, I know of no country where I should rather fix my habitation." That is a pretty formidable testimony for our fair city, don’t you think?
Marietta is a great place to live, and for that matter, it's a nice place to visit as well. The qualities of our community certainly are built on its history, its rivers, and most importantly, the foresight of its people. I'm sure when the pioneers made this the first settlement in the Northwest Territory, they didn't do it so they could have a college mascot named for them. And I'm sure that when Marquis de Lafayette pulled up to the bank of the Ohio River in 1825, he didn't say "build a hotel. . . and name it after me." What they did do was create a vision, they sparked ideas, and it developed into where we live today.
There have been plenty of attempts to blaze this trail that will become the blueprint for tomorrow. Rufus Putnam didn't know what would become of the world in 20 or 100 years, but he probably made some educated guesses, and they seemed to work out okay. Ten years ago we were talking about revitalizing Front Street, and widening Pike Street, and starting a bike path, and building a new pool. Do we dare ask anyone who was against those advancements if they were a colossal waste of time and money? Or should we move on to the next project? The flickering candle of history shines on “what ifs” and “should haves”, when it should embrace “what is”. Calculate the odds, consider the risk, and shove off without regret of having not done it sooner, or better.
Though known for his successes in the war and of his life that followed, Washington suffered many defeats before achieving victory. In fact, George Washington known as one of the greatest generals in American history was 3 of 12 in battles. Since when does 3 of 12 get you such high praise? If he was 3 of 12 at the plate would he be in the starting lineup on any baseball team? The difference is … HE WON THE RIGHT BATTLES! It's time to get serious about what we want, what we value, how we can keep it, get it, and grow it.
One of the greatest generals in American history once said, “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable: procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” You should also know, ‘in case someone ask’, that there is a grindstone marker where this very same guy rolled his sleeping blanket out in Reno just above the mouth of The Little Muskingum river. And if that is off your scheduled course for the day, you'll find another off Route 14 in Williamstown.