Monday, February 17, 2014

Why Do We Have A Day Off For Presidents Day?

While many were home today for Presidents Day, I was at the office trying to get things done. With so many storms and other delays lately, it has been a chore trying to stay in front of a lot of items on my to-do list. And, when I think about it, what better way to honor Presidents Day than to work? After all, the men for whom the holiday was created, Washington and Lincoln, worked and worked hard to achieve what they did in their lifetimes.

So, for the sake of education, here is a little bit of information from Wikipedia about Presidents Day, the day when we honor a Mason and a Republican (ah, I can sense the liberals cringing):

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

It is also a state holiday in most states where it is known by a variety of names including Presidents Day and Washington's and Lincoln's Birthday and officially celebrates, depending upon the state, Washington alone, Washington and Lincoln, or some other combination of U.S. presidents. Some states celebrate Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson but not Lincoln.

Colloquially, the holiday is widely known as "Presidents Day" and is often an occasion to celebrate, or at least remember, all presidents and not just George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays are in February. In historical rankings of Presidents of the United States both Lincoln and Washington are frequently, but not always, the top two presidents.

In Washington's adopted hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, celebrations are held throughout the month of February.

The federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in Washington (20 Stat. 277) and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices (23 Stat. 516). As the first federal holiday to honor an American President, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This date places it between February 15 and 21, which makes the name "Washington's Birthday" in some sense a misnomer, since it never occurs on Washington's actual birthday, either February 11 (Old Style), or February 22 (New Style).

The first attempt to create a Presidents Day occurred in 1951 when the "President's Day National Committee" was formed by Harold Stone Bridge Fischer of Compton, California, who became its National Executive Director for the next two decades. The purpose was not to honor any particular President but to honor the office of the Presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day. However, the bill recognizing the March 4 date was stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee (which had authority over federal holidays). That committee felt that, because of its proximity to Lincoln's and Washington's Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be unduly burdensome. During this time, however, the Governors of a majority of the individual states issued proclamations declaring March 4 to be Presidents' Day in their respective jurisdictions.

An early draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act would have renamed the holiday to "Presidents' Day" to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, which would explain why the chosen date falls between the two, but this proposal failed in committee, and the bill as voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968, kept the name Washington's Birthday.

By the mid-1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term "Presidents' Day" began its public appearance.

Now that you have a little bit of background on the origins of the holiday what seemed like a good idea to remember some of the greatest men in this country’s history really doesn’t seem like a proper means of honoring those same men. Two men who fought for, who relentlessly worked for freedom in this country are memorialized by taking the day off? No thank you. I am going to honor them, and honor what they stood for, by continuing to work hard. Honor their memories through your actions not by taking the day off and going to some big retail sale.