U.S.

February 14, 2014

It’s Washington’s Birthday, not President’s Day

Tags:
Joe Davidson
452 AMW public affairs

slide1a
President’s Day goes by with little notice, except for some schools and federal employees getting to ‘observe’ the holiday. Supermarkets and retail stores advertise President’s Day sales hoping to draw in those lucky enough to have the day off.

However, do you know what the legal name for the holiday is, how it became a national holiday and the reason it was established?

Some believe President’s Day is meant to honor all the American presidents, with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln coming to mind for most. Although prior to 1968 both birthdays were observed in the month of February, only one was, and still is, a national holiday.

George Washington was born in Virginia on February 11, 1731, according to the then-used Julian calendar. In 1752, however, Britain and all its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar which moved his birthday a year and 11 days to February 22, 1732.
Washington’s Birthday, the national holiday, was actually created 70 years after his death when on January 31, 1879, Congress added February 22nd to the list of holidays to be observed by federal employees, some paid, some unpaid, in the District of Columbia only. Six years later, Congress ruled that all federal employees would be authorized a paid holiday for Washington’s Birthday.

According to a National Archives’ Center for Legislative Archives article on George Washington’s Birthday, nearly 90 years later, “Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to ‘provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.’ By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to ‘bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.’”

The article continued, stating that “one of the provisions of this act changed the observance of Washington’s Birthday from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Ironically, this guaranteed that the holiday would never be celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, as the third Monday in February cannot fall any later than February 21.”

Today, “Presidents Day” is observed in some but not all states, but the third Monday of February legally remains Washington’s Birthday. Contrary to popular belief, neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington’s Birthday be legally changed to “President’s Day.”

The U. S. Senate Web site states that the Senate tradition of the reading of President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address began on February 22, 1862, as a morale-boosting gesture during the darkest days of the Civil War. Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson introduced a petition from the citizens of Philadelphia to commemorate the anniversary of Washington’s birth by reading the Address at a joint meeting of both houses.

“In view of the perilous condition of the country,” he said, “I think the time has arrived when we should recur back to the days, the times, and the doings of Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, who founded the government under which we live.”

Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session. That tradition continues today.

A federal holiday is established for reasons other than having a day off or shopping. As we observe Washington’s 282nd Birthday, we are also reminded that it is the month we observe the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrating the birth of both affords us the opportunity to broaden our knowledge of civil rights issues, not only from the 1950’s and 1960’s, but from the birth of our nation.

It is noteworthy that only two Americans, George Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have been honored with individual federal holidays.

(NOTE: Linda Welz, Beacon editor, contributed to this story, which was revised from the original story that can be seen at http://www.march.afrc.af.mil/news/story_print.asp?id=123290909.)




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher

Rising Six adds splash of color to drill weekends

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher Runners are dowsed with color by volunteers as they round the last station before crossing the finish line during the 5K Fun Color Run Aug. 9, hosted by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing ...
 
 

B-17 duty was tiring yet memorable

(Second in an 11-part series that was first run in the Beacon in 2007) B-17 Flying Fortresses were noisy, cold and reliable, men who flew and repaired them for the 452nd Bombardment Group recall. “It was so loud, I could yell in the pilot’s ear from six inches away and he couldn’t hear me,” said...
 
 

Service members receiving RAND Military Workplace Survey

FORT MEADE, Md. — About 580,000 service members have begun receiving emails or letters inviting them to participate in the first RAND Military Workplace Study, Defense Department officials said. Active and reserve component members in all military branches and the Coast Guard are being invited to participate. “The survey is unprecedented in its scale and...
 

 

452 Aerial Port Support Flight hosts Marine training operation

More than two dozen light armored reconnaissance vehicles, equipment and personnel were transported by the 1st Light Armor Reconnaissance Battalion from Camp Pendleton, California, to launch a training operation at March Air Reserve Base, July 21. This exercise allowed the 1st LAR the ability to apply capabilities and core mission essential tasks learned at their...
 
 
Courtesy photo

HomeStrong USA gives opportunity for free home-ownership to local military veteran

Courtesy photo A volunteer, working with HomeStrong USA, makes repairs on the outside of a home that is being renovated for a deserving veteran. The non-profit organization donates renovated single-family homes to eligible vete...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2014

BONE MARROW DRIVE HERE SEPT 13 March Top 3 Association is hosting the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, Salute to Life Drive on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 in the grassy area outside the base Fitness Center, Bldg. 465 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. It’s quick and painless! Please join us in...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin