Hello, I am Jocie, and I am little. You know someone much older, Diana. She let me talk to you for a minute about George Washington. I do not like him one bit—okay, maybe I resent him.

You see, Washington’s birthday was such a big deal in kindergarten.

There were pictures of him all over our classroom walls. I guess I should tell you my birthday is Feb. 21, and no one made a fuss about my birthday. It made me cry.

And then, there is that stupid chopping-down-the-cherry-tree story and him being all honest and telling his father the truth.

Big deal! I always told the truth (at least most of the time). If I got a nickel for every time my parents told me that story about some old cherry tree, I bet you I would have five dollars.

Thanks, Jocie. Diana here: today, I would like to start with some things you may think are true but actually aren’t—honest.

For instance, that cherry tree story? It’s not true (somewhat disappointing, huh?). One of Washington’s first biographers, Mason Locke Weems, created the tale and included it in the fifth edition of his bestselling biography “The Life of Washington.”

How about Washington’s famous wooden teeth? Sorry, it’s not true. Washington never used wooden dentures but wore multiple sets containing gold, lead, ivory, and human teeth, which may or may not have come from slaves.

As for Betsy Ross, I grew up believing Washington visited her Philadelphia upholstery shop in 1776 and asked her to design a new flag for our rebellious colonies. There is no historical evidence of the meeting.

Moreover, the famous artworks of Washington praying as he knelt in the snow at Valley Forge may or may not be fact. Whether someone witnessed Washington praying, the legend sure inspired great art.

Then there’s the story about Washington being the first president to live in the White House. It would have been unlikely since the White House’s construction officially began on Oct. 13, 1792. The first president to have that honor was our second president, John Adams, who moved in with his wife, Abigail, in 1800.

Here is something interesting: did you know that one of Washington’s first places to live was Alexander Macomb House on 39 Broadway?

Now, some facts. Our George was born to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington in Virginia. Washington had many brothers and sisters, but his elder half-brother, Lawrence, impacted Washington’s life the most.

The two brothers settled in Mount Vernon, land Lawrence inherited after the death of their father. Lawrence’s widow, Anne Washington Lee, leased the property to Washington since she no longer lived there after marrying her second husband, George Lee. Washington only became Mount Vernon’s official owner after Anne died.

Washington never went to college, but his skill with numbers helped him become a land surveyor. He finished 199 surveys totaling over 60,000 acres by 1752.

Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow, when he was 26. Martha knew a great deal about planting crops and greatly aided him. After they married, Washington shared Martha’s one-third of her late husband’s property, which included some 15,000 acres of land and 84 slaves, which made him one of the wealthiest men in Virginia and helped him on his way into politics.

The number of slaves at Mount Vernon increased over the years—so much so that Washington had more than 300 slaves on his plantation by his death in 1799.

Washington’s views about slavery changed so significantly throughout his life (especially before and after the American Revolution) that he eventually stopped buying and selling individuals, whether it was morally or economically motivated. However, Washington designated in his will that he granted his slaves their freedom after Martha’s death.

Washington was quick to put himself at our country’s service. At just 21 years old, he joined the British military, the very service he would later battle against. Sometime later, Washington fought in the French and Indian War. He became commander of the Continental Army in 1775 during the American Revolution, and boy, did he shine there!

Then, in 1787, Washington led the Constitutional Convention that formed so much of our government. Washington, considered a national hero, was unanimously elected our first president in 1789.

After all his years of service, Washington returned to his beloved Mount Vernon. He and Martha lived many happy years there.

After victoriously winning so many battles, Washington fought one he lost on Dec. 14, 1799: it was a throat infection that ended his life. According to his secretary, Tobias Lear, Washington’s last remarks included “I am just going!” and “Tis well!”

President George Washington was the “right stuff” and has continued to be a hero all these years, which is why we celebrate him yearly. Happy birthday, President George Washington.

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.