Many of us are off of work today, but are unaware of the true origin of this holiday. Indeed, today is not Presidents’ Day; it is the legal holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday (his actual birthday is February 22). Washington’s Birthday has been usurped by liberals (and marketers), as it has been morphed into a generic celebration of all American presidents.
In 1885, President Chester Arthur signed the original bill to make Washington’s birthday – February 22 – a federal holiday. For the first 83 years, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday. It wasn’t until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holidays Act, that the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February. Now, the holiday can only fall out between Lincoln’s (Feb. 12) and Washington’s birthdays, but never on February 22, the original date of the holiday. There was no official act of Congress that changed the name of the holiday (although an earlier draft the 1968 law did), but the random date opened the door for those with influence over the culture to corrupt the name. Many states, including my home state, officially call it Presidents’ Day.
There is actually deep meaning behind the name change. Liberals garner antipathy for our Founding Fathers. At best, they view our founding president with no higher regard than other more uninspiring presidents. Thus, in their mind, George Washington was no greater than Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Jimmy Carter…and Barack Obama! In fact, they think these presidents were much greater than our first president. After all, how do you think they would regard an elected official who would declare the following in this day and age? “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
In that vein, it is prudent to reflect upon George Washington’s greatest contribution to the office of the presidency. Washington was in a position to use his popularity to fashion the office into a kingship. He could have served in that office for life. Yet, he chose to set a precedent of serving for just two terms, until that precedent was corrupted by FDR. That decision was one of the greatest acts of men in positions of power of all time. Could you imagine Barack Obama making the same decision were he given the opportunity to serve indefinitely? It is for this reason that we celebrate Washington’s Birthday instead of Presidents ‘Day.
As the wife of the current occupant of the office enjoys a lavish vacation on this day, it is also worthwhile to recall a quote from our first president regarding the “glare of the office.”
All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.
George Washington, letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, January 9, 1790
For further reading, here is Washington’s farewell address. This is something that should be taught in every American school. Unfortunately, his memory is rapidly ebbing from the public consciousness.
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