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/Sean Dath

Local organization donates packages to March troops

U.S. Air Force photo/Sean Dath Nora Shaw, project coordinator for Sariaya Association of California, puts the final touches on a care package prior to it being sent to deployed servicemembers from March ARB. Deployed service me...
 
 

‘Tis the season to drink responsibly

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) — It’s that time of year when holiday parties and late night celebrations begin to fill our calendars and we look forward to spending time with family and friends to celebrate our own special reasons for the season. Every Christmas Eve, I celebrate my life and I give thanks...
 
 

Good cyber security habits essential during holidays

With so many new methods for cyber theft, it’s important to remember to take extra steps to protect your bank accounts and money this season, as criminals look to take advantage of the increased spending activity. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your identity and your wallet. Here are some tips for...
 

 

Shop and donate wisely this holiday season

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently issued tips on how Californians can protect themselves from identity theft and make the most of their charitable giving throughout this holiday season. Tips for safe shopping: Review your bank and credit card statements frequently for unusual and unfamiliar transactions. In the event of a security breach involving...
 
 
HBI--strength-training-getting-started

Build a better body through strength training

Strength training, also called weight training, boosts your metabolism by adding lean muscle, helping you lose weight and keep it off. It can also prevent diabetes, fight aging, keep your bones strong, protect your memory, lowe...
 
 

Air Force Fitness Management System slated for upgrade

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard officers and enlisted members who want to maintain copies of their pre-July 2010 fitness records need to access the Air Force Fitness Management System (AFFMS) and save or print their records by Dec. 30, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Dec....
 




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