Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington!

Hey, Camp Fans!

February is the month in which we celebrate President’s Day—this holiday landed on the 15th. The day was conceived as a way to combine both presidential birthdays that fall in February: Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s. I posted about Abraham Lincoln on his birthday earlier this month. Today is George Washington’s birthday, or the day we celebrate, anyway.
The man of many sicknesses.
Why don’t we celebrate on Washington’s actual birthday? Well, he was born on February 11, 1731—as it fell on the Julian calendar. However, the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar (the one we all know and love today) which displaced his birthday to February 22. The date of New Year’s Day shifted as well, changing his birthday to February 22, 1732.

Washington was one hard-hitting president—the kind of leader America needed to stand up to the British and take our independence! Yes, General Washington certainly fought the good fight and won. He did it all in the face of adversity too. He had a number of health problems—not to mention, he saw his fair share of the action. Check out a few of the things he was up against:

1.) He didn’t have wooden teeth as many people believe. He did, however, have some pretty horrible dental issues. Dealing with the terrible pain of incessant toothaches starting in his mid-20s, Washington started having his teeth pulled and started losing about a tooth per year.

George Washington wore these uncomfortable dentures in his mouth for a solid chunk of his life.By the time he was 57, he had just one, lonely tooth left in his head which was eventually pulled and led him to the need for dentures. Dental health is extremely important to overall health and specifically linked to the condition of a person’s heart. Brush your teeth, kids!

2.) He was the sickest president in the history of the White House. Poor George got hit with a slew of illnesses that left him bedridden. He was sick with diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, something similar to tonsillitis, carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis. Luckily, modern day vaccines have eliminated most of these illnesses for us, but Washington was not so lucky.

3.) Probably one of his most serious brushes with mortal danger happened when he was 23 and seemingly haunted him till the end of his days. Aide to the British General who was leading an expedition against the French in Pennsylvania at the time, Washington was so ill he was ordered to stay behind. He followed anyway, tying pillows to his saddle to reduce the pain of traveling.

That day, Washington found himself in a battle that neither he, nor the troop he was with were ready for. And despite his hat getting shot off and four bullets tearing through his coat, Washington came away from the battle unharmed, leading the 40-mile retreat. He did, however, suffered continuous attacks of fever and dysentery for the rest of that year—sicknesses from which he never fully healed.There wasn't much stopping George Washington!Whether you celebrate Presidents’ Day or Washington’s birthday, be sure to look into the very interesting and very amazing life of Mr. Washington. We can all learn a lesson or two from our nation’s first president and founding father. And, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

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