Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD | bio

Presidents Washington and Lincoln were both born in February. Americans celebrated their birthdays separately as two holidays until a long weekend was created in 1971 to honor them both.

This could be a time to review their lives of service, or to review the character of those who participated in community and public life and military service during the daunting days of our early Republic and the massive polarization of the Civil War.

Instead, it is an odd holiday, marked mostly by time off for school children and their parents, giving them and other American workers a break in the middle of the winter season to recover from the stresses of modern life and worries. And do we have worries!

So, here's to our next president of the United States. We have many problems for which there are no short-term fixes and, as a part of our national character, we have an expectation that government will fix things at no cost.

We have little to offer the next president except intense scrutiny of past and current personal life experiences and unrealistic expectations of the president's ability to improve the lives of all Americans, by keeping us safe and healthy and raising our standard of living. 

If we are to have a successful government in these difficult times, we must do what the citizens of America and Great Britain were asked to do during WWII. We must be prepared to make significant sacrifices so that we can change the course of our nation and the world, not just for today, but for future generations.

We must accept higher taxes and a change in retirement age to one based on current life expectancies — retire at 70, not 58 or 62 or even 65. We must restrain our use of fossil fuels. We must embrace a willingness to serve the nation in all ways that are possible: service to others as volunteers; service in local and state politics; and support for nonprofit organizations that provide essential services and safety nets.

If we are to recover from decades of hubris and gluttony, we must overhaul our national character and stick with a diet of humility and hard work. We must demand that our Congress and president work with us to develop solutions to problems that cause us fear.

We must ask the media to become part of this process. Americans have faced greater challenges in times of great trouble. We must reach back to that template of character that chose the greater good over individual greed. It is our country and our responsibility. 

We want to celebrate President's Day in 2009 with a populace that will be part of governmental reform and personal courage and sacrifice. We want to make this our most important national holiday — the day we measure ourselves as citizens who work side by side with our leaders. Washington and Lincoln would be so proud.

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