PRESIDENT'S DAY - WHAT IS IT?
Officially, Presidents’ Day, also referred to as Washington’s Birthday or Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday, was made to honor the life and achievements of George Washington, the first U.S. president.
Unlike holidays that fall on specific days like Christmas or Veterans Day, the exact date of Presidents’ Day varies between February 15 and February 21.
Presidents’ Day is not a federal holiday, which is why it goes by so many names and does not get observed the same way throughout the country.
SO HOW DID LINCOLN GET INVOLVED?
Abraham Lincoln’s birthday falls on February 12, and that close proximity to the shifting dates of Washington’s Birthday tends to be the reason that art work and advertisements for Presidents’ Day features those two presidents so prominently.
SO DOES THAT MEAN PRESIDENTS’ DAY ONLY HONORS THOSE TWO PRESIDENTS?
Not at all. Over time, the holiday expanded to celebrate the lives and service of every U.S. president.
While Washington and Lincoln remain two of the most famous and recognizable U.S. presidents, they obviously were not the only ones. To date, only 45 men have been elected to the office, and that fact alone makes having a day to honor them important, regardless of any feelings of anger or disagreement one may feel about the decisions and actions of a given individual.
Yup. Some people are still angry about decisions President John Adams made, and he passed away in 1826.
One of the most irritating things about presidential leadership tends to be the complete inability for anyone to accurately predict the consequences of a leadership decision at the time it gets made. This is largely because history has no timetable. An unpopular decision might prove to be really beneficial ten years down the road, or it might be a disaster within six weeks. No two decisions tend to be the same, and because every decision will be judged and scrutinized by everyone, it makes the job very difficult.
Honoring the presidents past and present does not mean forgetting everything they did, but rather a time to remember and consider how those decisions made the country what is it today. Doing so may also provide clues on how to move forward and how to avoid past mistakes.
The best presidents tend to be the ones who have shown, through their words and actions, an understanding of the weight of their decisions and a concern about what those decisions would mean for the country, both in the present and the future.
Plus, there’s pie.
PIE, YOU SAY?
Oh, yeah. One of the traditions of Presidents’ Day includes the baking and eating of cherry pie in honor of the old story of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. Depending on the community, there might also be parades, presentations, or the reading of old letters written by the presidents.
SO SHOULD I GO BUY A MATTRESS TO HONOR THE PRESIDENTS?
Only if you need one. A mattress is not a Christmas tree or jack-o’-lantern; you don’t need to get a new one every year.