Dr. Kelly Applewhite, President of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, recounted her early days at the mansion when she gave tours. She remembers how smart aleck visitors would sometimes peer into the bedroom of George Washington and ask in mock seriousness, “Now is any of his body heat still in the bed?” Many in the tour group would chuckle which drew a furtive look of condemnation from a then youthful Kelly as the contrite wise guy realized he had crossed a line in referring to our illustrious forefather.
But maybe this loose cannon wasn’t off target with his flippant jest. In fact it has now been confirmed he hit the bullseye with his remark based on a Homeland Security team’s recent discovery. While on a mission to terror-proof Mount Vernon they were stunned by what they uncovered. The team was utilizing night vision goggles to securitize the national landmark from prospective defilers when specialists noticed an eerie glow emanating from the bed where the Father of Our Country expired on December 14, 1799. Upon closer inspection, and in tandem with expertise provided by Dr. Applewhite, it was conclusively determined through thermal imagery, that the slowly fading heat signature was none other than George Washington’s. The outline was unmistakable; right down to the peculiar heat signature on his left thigh where he’d had an abscess removed in 1793. A less distinct glowing mass to the left of the General’s was described as “of a matronly contour ” and is believed to be that of his loving wife Martha who had crawled into bed and kept vigil over the stricken chieftain that fateful night.
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George Washington lives on in the hearts of his countrymen and now in the outline of his body heat still resident in the bed where he died. What lends further credence to this discovery is that it is well-known Martha never spent another night in that room or in that bed after her beloved husband died. She lived her last 3 years in a modest 3rd floor dormer room heated by a Franklin stove. Records produced by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association who superintend the mansion and the General’s legacy, reveal that upon removal of George Washington’s lifeless body from the four-post bed, it was meticulously remade and sanctified so that no one else would ever disturb the sacred linen bedding where our first President drew his last breath.
Thermal image historic preservationists are working diligently to maintain the 219 year-old cooling outline of Mr. Washington’s body before it evanesces into the ethers. They are flatly astonished that this heat energy could be preserved and husbanded in one bed for over two centuries without supernatural intervention. Thermal preservationists said that based on even the most generous thermo-evaporative calculations, his body heat should’ve completely vanished by December 15, 1799. That leaves almost 219 years unaccounted for.
Whether a burning communal respect for the General was still providing enduring kindling for the outlined memory of our revered forefather, thermal preservationists weren’t saying. They do however, hope to heat the room to an optimal temperature whereby the dissipating heat of George Washington’s image retains a half-life of 400 years thereby preserving the great man’s thermal signature for generations to come. Of course in their exuberance to preserve a constant yet minimal temperature differential, thermal preservationists run the risk of overheating the room and co-mingling the ambient heat with George Washington’s body heat such that the delicate isothermic outlines of the General’s body lose their ghostly distinction and melt into each other. And while this disappearance would be a loss to posterity, it might be in keeping with the military bearing and sterling character of George Washington.
When and if George Washington’s body heat does surrender its warmth to the surrounding atmosphere, it will echo the words of General Douglas MacArthur who in his resignation speech before congress in 1952 proclaimed, “Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.”