On March 28th, 2019, Will Boswell, a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, wrote a letter to the late American president, George Washington. His letter aimed to detail current changes in American society, as well as to compare these changes and their effects to Washington’s original vision for America.
Dear President Washington,
My name is Will Boswell, and I hope this letter reaches you well.
I’m an American citizen, and that should mean quite a lot to you. Let me add that it is 2019, and I am an American citizen. Despite previous attempts by the British to regain their colonies, we have prevailed, and oh, we’re friends with them now. We’re friends with most of the world, and as a matter of fact, we assist them with their many problems. Some have called us the ‘World Police,’ and the label’s not far off from the truth. That may surprise you, so I’ll throw in another surprise: the United States of America is a world ‘superpower,’ much like the British Empire.
You’re brimming with questions, I understand, but I think you should know I’m only nineteen. I know a bit about some things, but on others, I know too little. America isn’t as open to public knowledge as it used to be; we’ve become more secretive in our practices. In a way, it’s both necessary and frightening. What many see as governmental overreach is interpreted by others as necessary to preserving our liberties. Put simply, this is no small country, as you originally created it; in fact, as expressed before, it is a large superpower, this status coming with numerous foundational changes.
One of the largest changes, to you, may be that in 2008, we elected our first black president, Barack Obama, signaling an incredible alteration of the American perception toward minority citizens. Diversity has come a long way in our country—and what comes to mind are such watershed moments as the 1917 Women’s Suffrage Movement and the abolition of slavery in 1865. Our fourteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, abolished it by way of the Constitution, and this, among other reasons, caused his assassination. It was an unfortunate end to a true American patriot, a man I’m sure you would have greatly respected.
There’s too much to explain in so short a time, so I’ll get to my main points. Mr. President, America has changed. You can interpret that however you want to, and I hope you’ll understand my saying on some days that I feel as if no one listened to you. Due to your slave-holding past, many American citizens elect to listen to neither you nor your compatriots. You are all a part of a racist past, and while I acknowledge it as wrong, I also believe it’s important to separate the different qualities of a person before judging them according to the values of the time. I mean no disrespect to you, sir, grateful for what you did for this country, but our country’s values, along with our perception of historical figures, have changed—and they have changed for the better.
Aside from this small unification, our country is more divided than ever before. Politics has grown even more distasteful, neither side particularly appealing to the American public. Domestic terrorists have brought the battlefield to our schools and churches, concerts and clubs, gunning down innocent civilians for reasons we can hardly comprehend. As I write this, another shooting has occurred in which four people have been shot, one of them dead, at a synagogue of all places. The American public itself fights over the pettiest issues and at times, it’s as though we can’t compromise on any one thing.
This must hurt you to hear these things, but as you well know, no nation is without its battles. Of these problems, some may become trivial in the future, and some may linger on, challenging new generations to rediscover the national principles forgotten by previous ones. I feel that’s the story of America: a nation where values are constantly taken up and put down, new ones intervening on behalf of the ever-insistent vox populi striving after the solutions and meanings that, though not always the best, are the right ones for the time. It is that America you fought for, and it is that America we will continue to fight for, so long as we have a reason to.
The United States has come a long way in over two hundred years. I live in the twenty-first century, and I am a college student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. I’ve witnessed hundreds of changes in my short lifetime, looking to create a few myself, and more are taking place minute by minute. I am astounded at the amount of ways society shifts, and people surprise.
With our Founding Fathers, a nation awoke, and without them, a nation perseveres. It is not for me to say where our focus will shift next, but I can hope it is in a good direction. We can survive anything that is thrown at us, rest assured of that.
May you rest in peace.
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