Music and the Spoken Word: A legend about George Washington that shouldn't be forgotten

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Feb. 17, 2019.

According to popular legend, an officer in the Revolutionary War once directed his men to fell some trees and construct a much-needed bridge. As the soldiers struggled mightily with the task, an imposing-looking man rode up and, observing their work, said to the officer, "You don't have enough men for the job, do you?"

"No," the officer replied. "We need some help."

The man, looking down from his saddle, asked, "Why don't you help your men?"

"Me?" the officer responded in a huff. "Why, I am a corporal!"

The man got down from his horse and worked with the soldiers until the bridge was completed. Then, mounting his horse, he said to the officer, "Corporal, the next time you have a job to put through and too few men to do it you had better send for the Commander-in-Chief, and I will come again."

The man, so the legend goes, was General George Washington.

This remarkable leader left a singular imprint on our nation. His picture is on postage stamps, coins and dollar bills. His name is on cities, roads, lakes, mountains and schools all over the country. And a 555-foot monument in his honor stands majestically at the center of the nation's capital, which also happens to bear the name Washington.

But more important than all of this is the imprint he left on the lives of the people who knew him — and, indirectly, on every American ever since. He was deeply respected for his unique combination of ability and humility. And in turn, he showed deep respect for others — especially those who stood by his side and fought for freedom in perilous conditions. The idea that General Washington would stop to help men build a bridge is perfectly believable because that’s the kind of person he was. The poetic words written for his eulogy in 1799 are just as true today as they were then: he was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

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