Tag Archives: Constitution

A Virginia Landmark in Omaha

August 12, 2016 by
Photography by Contributed

George Washington looms large in history. Even if he hadn’t been elected our first president, he made his mark as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and as the man who presided over the convention that drafted our Constitution. He was also a phenomenally wealthy plantation owner—estimated to have been our wealthiest president.

Washington’s family plantation was called Mount Vernon, named for English naval officer Edward Vernon. Washington’s elder brother served under Vernon in the marvelously titled “War of Jenkins’ Ear,” a British and Spanish conflict named after the ear cut off of a British smuggler.

Washington looms so large in American history that people have named at least 32 pieces of land after him, including at least 30 cities, one District of Columbia, and a state. Patriotically minded Americans have also taken to naming things after Mount Vernon, or recreating it—Wikipedia lists at least six full-sized replicas of his mansion built over the course of American history, as well as a particular interest in the plantation’s famous gardens.

These gardens are even replicated in Omaha, which will surprise nobody who has heard its name: Mount Vernon Gardens, a half-scale replica of Washington’s estate located on a bluff in South Omaha.

The idea for the replica first made an appearance in 1927. A national ladies association, appropriately known as the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, originally sent Omaha’s city engineer to the Virginia plantation to look it over. Inspired by this, he and Park Commissioner Joseph B. Hummel decided they could build a local duplicate.

It was, of course, impossible to exactly mirror Washington’s gardens in Omaha—“we cannot have the beautiful magnolia trees and boxwood for hedges does not do so well here,” Hood told the Omaha World-Herald. But they would reproduce the place’s beauty, if not its exact collection of trees, flowers, and plants. To show off their intentions, in 1929, the city invited students of Technical High School to create a miniature version of the proposed park, which was then displayed at a spring flower show.

In 1930, the city started construction. Trees and shrubs were added to the site at a cost of $3,500, although some of that was immediately damaged by motorists who sped along River Drive in April, stripping trees of their flowers. Nonetheless, by May of that year, the garden was ready for visitors, including a reproduction of the sun dial that reportedly stood at the original plantation during Washington’s time. The park included a Masonic maze exactly the size and shape planted by Washington near a Martha Washington garden. And where Martha once planted vegetables, this Mount Vernon offered more flowers, arranged according to the time of day they best represented.

The local site has long been a favorite for visitors and events, particularly weddings. The popularity of the gardens helped encourage a restoration that added accessible walkways in the 1990s.  Encounter

Visit backtotheriver.org/mt_vernon.htm for more information.

HistoryUSE

Is Our Liberty to Succeed or Fail in Jeopardy?

May 25, 2013 by

It’s an issue that affects small businesses—the push for more and more sharing with others who don’t have as much as you do. This trend can be seen in many business practices, too. For example, the sales commission question below:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This Benjamin Franklin quote, with its many derivations, points toward a simple fact that, for one to expect a government to guarantee something, a part of one’s liberty will be the price.

The questions is: How much of your liberty will you gladly trade for an increased level of governmental protection? In other words, is it the responsibility of government to feed you, house you, educate you, care for you, etc…if you are sick, unwilling, or incapable?

Most of us feel that it is the obligation of government to provide us with some of these needs and desires. Others feel that government should do that and much more.

This is the age-old contest between those rowing the boat and those along for the ride. The sales adage says 80 percent of the sales are made by 20 percent of the sales force. In school, grades tend to follow a bell curve with a few students getting excellent marks while most are average, and a few bring up the rear. Should the sales staff getting 80 percent of the sales get the same commission as the rest of the team? Should the top students share their grades with those less fortunate, thus everyone getting a grade of C? What level of “sharing” do you consider fair?

What if you were a doctor who endured many years of school with considerable effort and expense? Economic justice would dictate that the doctor’s earnings be shared with those who were not capable, for whatever reason—even laziness—to achieve the same degree of earning capability. Would you be willing to have the government decide how much of a doctor’s income gets redistributed? If so, what incentive would current medical students (or anyone considering entering into a lengthy and expensive effort) have to continue becoming a doctor only to have their efforts taken away?

To the consternation of so many, life isn’t fair. Is it the role of government to make life fair? This exact precept was explored throughout the 20th century. The direct result of these experiments offered two class societies: the ruling elite and everyone else. Sadly, the ‘everyone else’ class was considered expendable by those ruling. China squandered the lives of over 60 million in an effort to purchase world power status. The average Chinese existed and died on a daily caloric intake smaller than that of the slaves of Auschwitz. Russia bartered the lives of their bread basket Kulaks by the millions in exchange for the materials of industrialization. No, the only way a government can enforce equality is by reducing the living standard of the ‘everyone else’ class.

As America celebrates the 4th of July, a time for quiet contemplation of the uniqueness of this American experiment is due. All throughout history, tyranny is the norm. The liberty Americans have is truly unique. The thread that holds this together is the Constitution. I contend that the freedoms across the globe are there only so long as Americans remain free. Free to succeed, free to fail, free to risk their all in the pursuit of personal happiness. If Americans lose that desire for liberty, the rest of the world will lose as well.

Any views and/or opinions present in “The Know-It-All” columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of B2B Omaha Magazine or their parent company and/or their affiliates.