There are countless ways to honor Gen. George Washington—during his birthday celebration and throughout the year.
Here are ways to celebrate Washington during February… and throughout the year!
Some suggested activities to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22, 1732
Ask your school principal, teachers, school and local public libraries to present celebratory events like lectures, reenactor presentations, a birthday party, special video showings, etc.
School programs might include GW’s friends/employees re-enactors in 18 century attire Also, Wendi Kaplan, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, wrote a poem about GW’s life and might be able to participate. (Contact GWBCCfor assistance.)
Create an exhibit for the front lobby and/or library, cafeteria, hall walls. It could include a copy of the mayor’s proclamation to celebrate Washington’s birthday, pictures of Washington and his family and home, a list of Washington’s contributions to our city, state and nation, books, flags, essays, etc.
Draw a portrait of George Washington – perhaps at different ages. Compete for the best likeness. Or draw a political cartoon featuring GW or a comic strip about an important event in his life. Post/exhibit these for all to enjoy.
March in the parade, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. It starts at 1 PM, 1 mile on flat streets in Old Town. Contact Joe Shumard at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Feb. 22, his real birthday, wear red/white/blue or buff/blue/white (the colors of Washington’s uniform). Washington paid careful attention to his appearance, including posture, table manners and conversation. He constantly aimed for excellence.
Make and wear a Colonial style tricorn hat (out of newspaper; see online directions).
Sing the birthday song to Gen. Washington (his preferred mode of address even after being President).
Make birthday cards for Washington, perhaps with a note, post them on a bulletin board with balloons and streamers and perhaps our flag around them. (Could also combine with creating portraits of GW)
Create cards and notes and send to veterans. Washington was always concerned with their welfare.
Create a crossword puzzle with Washington’s life and accomplishments as the theme. Exchange with a pal. Collect the best puzzles as a gift to ….. another class? Your family? A veteran?
Research, write and present a GW minute announcement every day during the week of his birthday. Focus on interesting aspects of his life and accomplishments as well as his contributions to Alexandria, our state, nation and the world.
Have cherries in some fashion on the menu for Feb. 22; what a delicious dessert! Maybe a cake or ice cream with cherries on top… (According to John Augustine Washington, a descendant, in The Education of George Washington, Parson Weems’ account has been misconstrued. The young George “barked” the valuable young cherry tree (cut around its perimeter) but didn’t chop it down. However, the effect of his action would be to kill the tree. His father did ask who had cut the tree and George did own up to the deed although he could expect a severe punishment. Instead, his father picked him up and hugged him, saying how pleased he was that George had told the truth. Honesty was essential because there were no banks and people worked on trust alone. His father was proud that his son had internalized the need for honesty at an early age.
The Rev. Tom Costa, now retired rector of Pohick Church, does a reenactment of the Rev. Mr. Massey, GW’s rector at Pohick, in 18c. attire. (Contact GWBCC for assistance.)
Declare a George Washington Math Day. Create a math puzzle. Exchange with a friend (for fun). Have a GW math quiz with the winner the person who finishes first with all correct answers. Washington doodled math problems in the margin of his books; he loved math! He also kept careful account of his income and expenditures in account books. (Basic accounting and economics)
Write a poem about Washington’s life and accomplishment(s).
Create a skit about some aspect of Washington’s life (He loved plays, especially about historical topics. His favorite was “Cato”, which he had performed for the troops during the Revolution to boost their spirits.)
Read and write a book report about Washington or another topic to “improve your mind”. To get an education beyond the rudiments he’d gotten in Fredericksburg where his formal education lasted only four years while he lived with his widowed mother, Washington read as much as he could on a wide variety of useful subjects. He started in the library of William Fairfax of Belvoir, a great privilege because books were very expensive. Then he was “examined” by his older brother Lawrence and Mr. Fairfax on his understanding and recollection of what he’d read to determine if he merited continuing that privilege. They found he had absorbed and understood the material admirably. Washington was a life-long omnivorous reader/learner and regretted he had so little time for it. He eventually owned an extensive book collection kept in a locked bookcase in his office.
Write a letter to the editor about some aspect of Washington’s life and why we should continue to honor him. (The Alexandria Gazette limits letters to 500 words, must also include the author’s name, mailing address, phone number(s) and email. Only the author’s name will be published; the rest is in case of questions. Being a published author is a great addition to a college application, application to the Governor’s School for the Gifted, etc.
Enjoy a George Washington dance contest. He excelled at dancing; he and his friends competed to see who was acclaimed the best. He usually won and Thomas Jefferson was second. He spent some of the first money he earned on dance lessons because that was an essential skill for a gentleman (and lady).
Play a musical instrument/have a Washington Birthday Celebration concert. Washington played the violin. He bought a harpsichord for his adopted daughter Nellie Custis and ordered the latest music from London for her to play. He liked music after dinner and at other times too. He especially liked contemporary composers, including Mozart, Handel and Bach. In fact, he liked all music, marches, minuet and country dance music, etc. “Yankee Doodle” was a favorite. Originally the British used the lyrics to mock the Americans who then changed the words and adopted the tune as their own. When he and Jefferson competed on the violin, Jefferson usually won, and Washington was second.
Write a letter to President Washington about a political issue of his day, giving your views and requesting …. Research how he managed the matter.
Write a letter commending Washington for …. and telling why you think he was right. Tell him the long range results of his decision (he died in 1799 so may not know).
Write a message in invisible ink. After Nathan Hale was hung, GW realized spies needed training and effective means of concealing messages – not the heel of his shoe like Major Andre, the British spy. Washington used some tricks he’d learned from the British during the French and Indian War and devised some of his own cyphers, etc. Both sides used spies extensively.
Go on a Walk with Washington on a Feb. Sunday led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer. It starts at Alexandria’s Visitor Center (Ramsay House), corner of King and Fairfax St. at 2 PM. Free Lasts about 2 hours; no advance reservations needed.
Volunteer to be a tour guide for the Walk with Washington excursions on the Sundays in Feb. There is a script and guided practice before one conducts a tour. Best for mature high school students and adults with an interest in history.
(Many thanks to Ellen Tabb of the GWBCC for assembling these ideas!)