President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday?
February 22, 2017 Celebration
Officially, on President’s Day, Americans are supposed to honor George Washington, the first President of the USA, and celebrate his accomplishments for the American nation. However, today we honor all other American presidents on this day as well. There are many events and celebrations arranged on President’s Day to give tribute to them.
Let’s see what different people do to honor Washington and other presidents of the USA and what historical facts are linked to this holiday.
Facts about President’s Day in the USA
- Washington’s Birthday became the federal holiday in the late 1870s. Senator Dorsey proposed this idea and President Hayes signed it into law in 1879. It became the first national holiday to celebrate a person.
- At first, the holiday applied only to Washington DC and was celebrated with galas and parties. In 1885, it spread to other cities and states as well.
- Initially, Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22, but in 1971, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act came into action, it was shifted to the third Monday of February.
- When the holiday was moved to the third Monday of the month, many people thought that the new date was chosen to celebrate both Presidents Washington and Lincoln at the same time, since this date fell between their birthdays.
- Even though many states still celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday on a separate day, President’s Day is now mostly viewed as a holiday to honor all American presidents of the past and present.
- Primarily, President’s Day was to honor only the first president of the USA and officially it is still called Washington’s Birthday.
- At schools, lectures and other events are organized to let students know more about President Washington and his contribution to the American history.
- In the US Senate, Washington’s Farewell Address is read to observe this holiday. This tradition began in 1862 and continues to be practiced today.
- In 2017, President’s Day falls on February 20.
In the meantime, many people think that it isn’t right to combine Washington together with 43 other presidents, since it diminishes his contribution to this country. After all, he was the only American President to be elected unanimously twice. He formed the President’s office and shaped the country’s principles, as we know them today. He was the commander in chief during the American Revolution and was able to hold the nation together when European conflicts were in action. George Washington was the Father of our country and he deserves to be honored separately from all other presidents. Therefore, many people consider that Washington has to be given particular attention on this holiday.