Some of the people I most admire – I'm talking about people who have inspired me – were American presidents.
Reading history books as a kid, I became an avid admirer of George Washington. He was our leader during and after the Revolution, and he was my first hero. No, he was my second hero. My dad was the first.
And growing up in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, I was a fan of Abraham Lincoln. Our 16th president had a profound affect on me. For example, I had little confidence in myself as a kid – until I studied Lincoln and his background and what he was able to achieve despite the hardships of that background, and I'd experienced no hardships. The creator of the Emancipation Proclamation also influenced my thinking about the injustices of racism; I was free of such prejudices at an early age, despite the inequalities I saw all around me in the1950s and early '60s.
"CBS Sunday Morning" featured a segment several weeks ago that looked at the greatest leaders who have lived in the White House and why they were great. I cannot remember who reported on our greatest presidents, but his list pretty much matched my tally.
Washington and Lincoln, of course, were on the roster. John Adams was there for his honor and honesty. Teddy Roosevelt made the list for his courage, integrity, patience and determination. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was there particularly for his persuasion, and the segment revisited FDR's fireside chats and his leadership during World War II.
Surprisingly to some, Gerald R. Ford appeared on the list. He was there for bravery. After all, it took someone fearless, with real guts, to pardon Nixon. Speaking of bravery, Ford served as a U.S. Navy officer in the Pacific during World War II.
On Presidents Day 2013, I find it particularly troubling that we're being bombarded these days by offensive remarks and images of President Obama. One image that appeared on Facebook a few days ago depicted my president alongside such murderous tyrants as Hitler, Stalin and Amin. It's sad to see the intolerance, arrogance and ignorant bias of so many people spewing out so much political ugliness and intolerance.
I am not saying I voted for Obama or didn't, and I'm not saying I agree with him in every way. My point on this Presidents Day is that as an American, I feel obligated to support the man duly elected by my fellow Americans to lead our great nation. My support could come in the form of disagreement, voicing my opinion to my elected representatives, hoping to change my president's course. But he's our president, and I abhor the disrespectful actions and remarks of some who lean to the extreme.
I am an American, and I support my president. And I shall always admire those men on that greatest-presidents list.
Hail to the chief!