Monday, February 15, 2016

A Flaccid Holiday

Before the 1970's Washington's Birthday (February 22nd) and Lincoln's Birthday (February 12th) were widely remembered occasions. Washington's was a national holiday, while Lincoln's was (and remains) a separate paid holiday in a handful of states.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 re-calendarized many Federal holidays to Monday to "aid the work of Government and bring new efficiency to our economy." Washington's Birthday, partly because of its proximity to Lincoln's, became popularly known as President's Day, but the original name remains on the books.

Exacting historians agree:
Today is not “President’s Day.” Presidents’ Day is not a federal holiday. Officially, Feb. 15, 2016 is George Washington’s Birthday [blogger's note: the writer means the recognized but not the actual date]. Presidents Day is a myth.
"Presidents Day" is not a myth to Madison Avenue, which publicizes the holiday as a good time to buy cars and furniture. As George Washington recedes into the mists of time, his birthday will be supplanted in the popular mind by a flaccid day that honors all Presidents, most much less deserving than he.

Such would be Washington's wish. The great man would have approved not being remembered:
The growing infirmities of age and the increasing love of retirement, daily confirm my decided predilection for domestic life: and the great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm.

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