Tuesday, February 19, 2008

President's Day Trivia

What did you do on President's Day?

I spent some time with my wife and caught a couple of movies: Juno and There Will Be Blood. Both were excellent and I recommend them highly.

Although I didn't blog on this, my normal day off, I did think about President's Day and what it was meant to celebrate. Here is the official origin of President's Day courtesy of Wikipedia. Who knew?

As the official title of the federal holiday, Washington's Birthday was originally implemented by the federal government of the United States in 1880 in the District of Columbia (20 Stat. 277) and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices (23 Stat. 516). 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. A draft of the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 would have renamed the holiday to Presidents' Day to honor both Washington and Lincoln, but this proposal failed in committee and the bill as voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968 simply moved Washington's Birthday.

In the late 1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term Presidents Day began its public appearance. The theme has expanded the focus of the holiday to honor another President born in February, Abraham Lincoln, and often other Presidents of the United States. 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.

It is also interesting to note that "Presidents Day" is not always an all-inclusive term. In Massachusetts, while the state officially celebrates "Washington's Birthday," state law also prescribes that the governor issue an annual Presidents Day proclamation honoring the presidents that have come from Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy. (Coolidge, the only one born outside of Massachusetts, spent his entire political career before the vice presidency there. George H. W. Bush, on the other hand, was born in Massachusetts, but has spent most of his life elsewhere.) Alabama uniquely observes the day as "Washington and Jefferson Day", even though Jefferson's birthday was in April. In Connecticut, while Presidents Day is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week.

In Washington's home state of Virginia the holiday is legally known as "George Washington Day."

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