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KellyGram – President’s Day

 

 

Next Monday, February 18, 2019, marks an ever-important, but often overlooked, federal holiday: Washington’s Birthday. Over two centuries ago, in 1800, we began recognizing Washington’s Birthday, albeit unofficially, as a day of remembrance, and it was declared an official federal holiday in 1879. Washington’s Birthday is synonymous with our country’s foundation, its beloved Constitution, and its fundamental values. Yet, Washington’s Birthday is rarely celebrated with the same fanfare as Independence Day, Labor Day, or Memorial Day.

In large part, I believe that its meaning is lost among confusion about the holiday itself; for example, you might be asking why I’m referring to “Washington’s Birthday” instead of “President’s Day.” The answer is “it’s complicated,” but here’s the short version: President’s Day is not a federally recognized holiday. On a national level the day is, and always has been, called Washington’s Birthday. However, after the official day of observance changed from George Washington’s actual birthday—February 22nd—to the third Monday of February, the holiday began to fall between Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday. Consequently, some states opted to observe President’s Day in honor of both men, and others honor all presidents on this day. In South Carolina, we celebrate “George Washington’s Birthday/ President’s Day.”

But whether or not you are fond of Washington, Lincoln, or other presidents—past or current—is immaterial to the significance of this day. Whichever version of the holiday you observe, Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day is a time to recognize and honor the values at the heart of America, the democracy built by our Founding Fathers, and the presidential office itself, all of which have served to make America the greatest nation on earth. So, with that said, I encourage everyone to take a few minutes on Monday to reflect on our nation’s history and the incredible leadership that has driven it forward for centuries.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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