After NHSA’s Winter Leadership Institute, and before my flight back to California on Jan. 31, I took two hours to walk from the hotel to the Washington Monument and back. I’ve visited a few times before, but this time I was intent upon getting a ticket and taking the elevator to the top. It was well worth it. The story of its construction was fascinating and the view from the top was impressive.

When I awoke 17 days later to Presidents’ Day, this is what I remembered: After you enter the Washington Monument on the ground floor and pass through security, there is a small waiting area near the elevator which carries 10-15 people up the 555 feet (and 5 1/8th inches) to the top. If you turn your back to the elevator, you are greeted with a portrait of George Washington and a quote from a letter he wrote to a friend in October, 1785: “My first wish…is to see the whole world in peace, and the inhabitants of it as one band of Brothers, striving who should contribute most to the happiness of mankind.”

This is what I celebrated on Presidents’ Day. Washington and Lincoln were inspirational leaders. They eloquently articulated values and aspirations that make us proud to be a part of the American experience. The optimist in me believes that most of us share this noble sentiment. And in some ways, Washington’s wish has come true.

For 55 years, Head Start has served as a powerful expression of this sentiment. Head Start is one, national band of teachers and parents committed to improving the lives of our nation’s youngest and most at-risk children. Every day, every year, for two score and five years, the Head Start community has been striving to contribute to the happiness of mankind.

One child at a time.

Christopher Maricle
Executive Director
Head Start California

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