Why have Presidents Day?

Presidents Day started as a celebration of Washington’s birthday but now is a day to remember all past presidents.

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Armani JacksonManaging Editor

Four score and about 136 years ago, the Federal Government brought forth, upon this country, a new holiday. It’s conceived in honor and dedicated to the proposition that all national workers can have more three day weekends, according to History.com.

Originally known as “Washington’s Birthday,” the holiday was renamed “Presidents Day” after its date was moved from Feb. 22 (Washington’s actual date of birth) as a part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act created in 1971. This act, once put into place, moved several Federal holidays to Mondays, so more workers would be able to have three-day weekends, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Today, this holiday is viewed as a day for patriotic celebration and remembrance of all past and present presidents. According to History.com, the holiday became more sentimental during the Great Depression when pictures of Washington would be printed on the front page of local newspapers every February 22. Later in 1932, this day was used to reinstitute the Purple Heart. Public schools usually spend the surrounding days teaching children about the lives and accomplishments of presidents, mostly Washington and Lincoln.

“I view Presidents Day as an occasion for Americans to recall that all of our presidents have been/are patriotic individuals,” History Instructor Christopher Vanneson said. “None of them have been perfect and a number of them have demonstrated significant weaknesses and prejudices. Some of them have been more successful than others in the aforementioned noble endeavors, but all of them deserve credit for at least trying to make our country better.”

If reenacting a battle isn’t enough of a celebration, people can visit George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia. Every year it holds two birthday celebrations, one on Presidents Day and the other on Washington’s actual birthday. Visitors expect to see Washington’s actual house he was born in, but it was destroyed in 1776 by fire. But, Birthplace contains multiple colonial revival structures to help one get into the patriotic spirit, according to their website.

To celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, each year on the closest Sunday to his actual date of birth Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, located in Indiana, holds a “Lincoln Day” where visitors can tour the historic farm and admire rangers dressed in clothing from the 1820s era, according to the Lincoln Boyhood website.

If those presidents don’t spark interest, the National Park Service provides a list of places that commemorate the rest of the presidents including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and others, according to US Parks.

Pierce students alike welcome the break from school.

“I appreciate the day off, it’s nice, but I don’t do anything to celebrate it,” student Claudia Speakes said.

Others think there are different ways to commemorate the holiday besides examining the historical background.

“(Presidents Day) is a good excuse to take a day off,” Executive Director of Operations Cole Webb said. “I guess we could make a birthday cake for George Washington (to celebrate it), that’d be fun.”

Although federal agencies are typically closed, one can spend the day reaping the benefits in retail. Big box stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Best Buy and others tend to have some of the best deals, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. Also, many online shopping platforms offer discounted prices on products or free shipping.

Presidents Day is one to spend either pondering on presidential terms or shopping until a person’s heart is content. Regardless of how it’s remembered, this holiday is a general celebration of what all the presidents have accomplished, Business and Social Science Instructor John Lucas said.

“There’s only one thing that we vote on as a country,” Lucas said. “That’s the election of the president and vice president, which is one of the reasons that there’s a special bond between the citizens and the president. In some countries, these roles are split between two people (head of government and symbol of the nation). The fact that both of these roles are combined in one person gives the president a unique importance for our country.” [/responsivevoice]

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Armani Jackson

Why have Presidents Day?

by Armani Jackson time to read: 3 min