Oakton Outlook

Celebrating Presidents’ Day

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Infographic from cargocollective

Infographic from cargocollective

Infographic from cargocollective

Ishika Jain, Editorial Board

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Every February, Americans celebrate in joy as they get a day off for Presidents’ Day. The weekend is filled with sales and families taking a break from their routine.  When it comes to Presidents’ Day, Americans are very happy but not because they are celebrating Presidents’ but because they get a day off. Often we are swept away by being able to have a day off that we forget about the reason why we celebrate Presidents’ Day, so why do we celebrate Presidents’ Day?

The holiday was established to celebrate President George Washington. When Washington was alive, people honored and celebrated him by planning balls and banquets on the day. Even after Washington passed, people continued to celebrate him by attending these events. Washington laid the basis for the nation and the holiday was established to honor his contributions. The holiday was originally celebrated on Washington’s birthday, February 22nd, but is now celebrated the third Monday of every February as in 1968, a law was put in a place that a certain amount of federal holidays should fall on a Monday. Unfortunately, this meant that President’s day would never be celebrated on Washington’s real birthday.  You may be wondering why we call the holiday Presidents’ Day if it was established for the sole purpose of celebrating Washington. The holiday is actually still called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. In 1968, Robert McClory, a U.S. Representative from Illinois, tried changing the holiday name to Presidents’ Day. However, legislators in Virginia were against the suggestion as Virginia was Washington’s home state.

However, McClory did succeed in establishing the holiday should be celebrated on the third Monday of February, which coincidentally is between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday. This made the holiday look like it was enacted to celebrate Washington and Lincoln and the rest of the presidents. Many states then used Presidents’ Day to name the holiday instead of Washington’s Birthday.

How do people celebrate the holiday? In the past, presidents pay a visit to Washington’s tomb. When the Civil War was going on, the Senate honored George Washington by reading part of his farewell address and by 1986, this had became an annual event. In fact, the different parties alternate each year on which senator will read the speech each year and write down their names for record in notebook that has been used since 1900.

Although Presidents’ Day does have its pros in filling the weekend with sales and stress-free weekends, it’s important to take the time to remember what not only Washington but also what past presidents have done for the nation.

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Celebrating Presidents’ Day