Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day!

What a sham. 

That's how I see it. Nowadays, anyway. Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie, so I must share a brutal truth. This is not Presidents Day.

Nor is it a national holiday designed to honor Abraham Lincoln along with Washington.

On the federal calendar, at least, Monday is still Washington’s birthday.

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 commonly known as Presidents Day. As Washington's Birthday or Presidents Day, it is also the official name of a concurrent state holiday celebrated on the same day in a number of states.

Titled Washington's Birthday, a federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in the District of Columbia and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, 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.

In today's society, I strongly believe we really need to stress President's Day as a celebration of our first ever President of these United States. Instead it's a faux holiday landing on the third Monday of February so we all get a Monday off of work or school. These days some observers of American culture say that the law did indeed transform days packed with meaning into days to shop, barbecue or watch "Twilight Zone" marathons on cable.

By the mid-1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term "Presidents' Day" began its public appearance. Although Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents' Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. However, "Presidents' Day" is not always an all-inclusive term. 

Retailers go all out in observance of President's Day. What else commemorates a celebratory event like a President's birthday or life, but a good deal on sheets or mattresses?

As for “Washington’s Birthday,” about a decade ago some members of Congress tried to restore the name to its proper place in American discourse.

They introduced the “Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act of 2001,” which called on all federal officials and entities to refer to the day as Washington’s Birthday. It also called on the president to issue an annual proclamation recognizing the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, and it urged Americans to observe the day with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

The bill never got out of committee.

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