Monday, February 17, 2014

I Still Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday Rather Than President’s Day!

I Still Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday Rather Than President’s Day!

When I was still a wee young thing, we celebrated George Washington’s Birthday on February 22nd and Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th – although only Washington’s Birthday was a federal holiday. Still, it just seemed right to set aside a day to honor the father of our country and first president, who was the only man even considered by the founding fathers to serve as the first president. He was that respected by his peers!

But in 1968 Congress, in its infinite wisdom, spent valuable time and resources debating and ultimately passing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, moving specific holidays to Mondays in its efforts to promote shopping. Ostensibly, members of Congress attempted to argue that the 3-day holidays would promote family togetherness, allow citizens more opportunity to partake of hobbies, educational and cultural activities, and to improve commercial and industrial production by minimizing the interruptions caused by midweek holidays and reduce employee absenteeism before and after the midweek holidays.  But ultimately, it was to promote shopping.

By 1971 when the law was enacted, George Washington had lost the commemoration of his birthday and the newly minted “Presidents Day” was on the books. Granted, initially, it was thought Americans would jointly celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln on the 3rd Monday in February.

But today, there is little to no focus on celebrating these two great presidents. Nope, they are unceremoniously lumped together with Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding, James Buchanan and Jimmy Carter. What a travesty! It’s not that I don’t appreciate the occasional 3 day weekend – but if I’m not celebrating an event worthy of commemoration, it is just an excuse for retailers to advertise the biggest sale of the year, until next weekend’s Thursday night preview of the 1-day sale that will last 3 days.

George Washington deserves better from us!


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