Keep Your Head Up

Max Meyer

George Washington and John F. Kennedy are figures that we look to as great leaders in the history of our nation.

In many people’s minds, they are people who did nothing but good throughout their lives. This is, in fact, a common theme in American history. Leaders are oftentimes sensationalized in. Because of this, many of the faults that these leaders did have gone overlooked.

For instance, George Washington was the owner of a large plantation, Mount Vernon, during his life. This plantation was home to hundreds of slaves. Though Washington spoke out against slavery, he was still a slave holder for 56 years.

Also, John F. Kennedy cheated on his wife so frequently that Jackie Kennedy and their children would leave the White House on the weekend. Those around Kennedy did their best to keep his adultery quiet during his presidency.

These are just some of the indiscretions and terrible acts that American leaders have committed, but still so few people know these things. Leaders, just like everyone else, have faults. There is no denying that, as you can tell from these examples. However, there is a very important lesson to be learned from this.

As high school students, we often feel like we need to be perfect. We want everyone else to have no bad thoughts about us, but the truth of the matter is that that is impossible. Our own leaders have their fair share of faults, so there is no need to feel bad about ours. By no means am I saying go ahead and willingly make mistakes, but if it does happen it’s not the end of the world. Because in the long run if you treat others well and carry yourself well, that is what you will be remembered for. That is what our leaders are remembered for, not the mistakes they made.

It is also necessary for us to learn from our mistakes. Once again, we can look at our past leaders. George Washington freed his slaves in his will and John F. Kennedy stopped cheating on his wife later in his life. They realized they made errors and fixed them. We must be constantly bettering ourselves and that is best done by learning from our missteps.

These lessons are the reason we study history. It is much more than just dates and facts, but a countless number of life lessons. Remember these lessons and I encourage you all to learn even more from history.