February 18, 2013
TO CELEBRATE, WHO TO CELEBRATE OR NOT CELEBRATE AT ALL ON PRESIDENTS DAY?
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Here at JFK+50 President John F. Kennedy is celebrated every day, but Presidents' Day, it seems, poses all kinds of issues for our fellow Americans.
Do we celebrate GEORGE WASHINGTON, ABRAHAM LINCOLN or both? After all, they were born in February.
Snapshots Of The Past (2010)
Or, since it is called Presidents' Day, should we not celebrate ALL presidents, the good ones as well as the bad?
To answer these questions let's first look at the history of the holiday.
George Washington's birthday, February 22nd, was originally set by Congress in 1879 & became a federal holiday in 1885.
Americans celebrated Washington's Birthday every February 22nd until Congress passed the UNIFORM MONDAY HOLIDAY ACT.
It was signed into law by LBJ on June 28, 1968 & went into effect on January 1, 1971.
The act moved Washington's birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day & Veterans Day to "designated Mondays."
The official federal holiday thus established on the 3rd Monday of February is in honor of the birthday of the 1st President of the United States, not #s 2-44.
Z. Byron Wolf of ABC News' The Note, says that it was President Nixon who "appears to have started the tradition of referring to Presidents Day by honoring all the presidents."
Wolf, however, adds....
"Good thing for (Nixon) too because he's the only president to resign in the face of impeachment."
Raj Nair of THE Blaze TV seems to be in agreement with Nixon's take on the day as he writes....
"As you celebrate Presidents Day, make a toast to Richard Birchard Hayes, Stephen Grover Cleveland & William Howard Taft. I don't see...Spielberg making a film called 'Van Buren' any time soon, so YOU will have to champion the forgotten POTUS this holiday."
I think Valerie Staves of the Washington Post hit the nail on the head, however, when she wrote in 2011....
"Ask half a dozen people who Presidents Day is meant to honor & you may get half a dozen different answers. There isn't even universal agreement on whether there is an apostrophe in 'presidents.'"
....but I really like CNN's reminding us that "states, local governments & businesses are NOT bound to honor the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, so they can call (it) whatever holiday they like or not have one at all."
Patrick Henry would be so proud!
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