Presidents Day is celebrated on the third Monday of February in keeping with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, creating more 3-day weekends for employees. Officially, it still commemorates the Feb. 22, 1732 birthday of George Washington. Unofficially, however, it seems to honor any president, usually and most often, George AND Abraham.
I believe that there are several presidents who deserve to be remembered, yet we cannot have a day of recognition for all those we feel might deserve that honor. There is no doubt that the first official president of our country (as opposed to John Hansen, who, in November 1781, became the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled, under the Articles of Confederation) ought to be the one who gets name recognition when it comes to that federal holiday.
There is only one holiday now always associated with the name of a person in this country and it is Martin Luther King Jr. and he rightfully deserves it. But does not our first president deserve at least equal billing for all he’s done? Many people are remembered for works great and small, and generally, they are remembered on their birthdays. Since most people care more about time off (the 3-day weekends) than a date’s significance, we can keep that, but I’d sure like to see them remember to call the holiday what it rightfully is — the day to honor George Washington’s birthday. Especially since there was a misconception about the name of the holiday being changed to Presidents Day. That name change has never been authorized byCongress, but it seems to be taken on as the name to use on calendars (all of mine say Presidents Day) and in the newspapers when they advertise their many sales.
There’s an old saying that goes, You can’t please all of the people all of the time…and we know that is true. But this issue ought not to be up to public opinion. We can choose to celebrate any of our personal favorite holidays and not celebrate those that don’t resonatewith us at all. Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are just a few thatcome to mind. But holidays like Independence Day and Washington’s Birthday are more than just holidays; they are days of deep recognition and both happy and somber significance.
Here’s to George! Long may he be remembered, and long may we celebrate
When we honor people, we are not suggesting that they were perfect or on the list for sainthood; they may even have had some hard-to-accept habits or secrets in their past that would not meet with happy acceptance in today’s world, but we don’t honor them for that part of their life. In fact, when we honor them for their contribution to our country, we honor them in spite of their faults and failings.
We may some day honor another person by name but in the meantime, I feel that keeping the name of the father of our country on that holiday would be a better idea than loosely allotting that honor to any president of our choice in the name of something like political correctness or ignorance.
The following information was found on infoplease and was written by Ann Marie Imbornoni.
Nevertheless, there was a popular misconception that the day had been officially renamed, a misconception only reinforced by the fact that the third Monday in February can only occur between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21. This means that the holiday is always after Lincoln’s birthday and before Washington’s birthday, without ever coinciding with either.
Furthermore, some states which had previously celebrated Lincoln’s Birthday dropped the observance after the federal holiday reforms, supporting the notion that the two presidential birthdays had beencombined.
While the name change has never been authorized by Congress, it has gained a strong hold on the public consciousness, and even by many government agencies. There have been attempts to introduce legislation requiring federal agencies to call the day Washington’s Birthday, but these have never gotten very far. No mtter what’s in the law books, the popular usage is now well established.
Many people feel that Lincoln, the president credited with preserving the nation during the Civil War, has been short-changed. To them, having Presidents’Day is a sensible way to recognize both Washington and Lincoln. Others feel just as strongly that having an inclusive Presidents’ Day diminishes Washington’s importance in American history.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.