Presidents Day: A Forgotten Holiday

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For many years, we have gotten Presidents Day off for both students and teaching staff. However, many times we forget the reason for why we have this special holiday off.

We have this day off to celebrate both George Washington’s birthday as well as Abraham Lincoln’s.  In 1885, Washington’s birthday was celebrated on February 22, which was his actual day of birth. On January 1, 1971, Congress signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to establish the observance of some holidays on Mondays. This caused Presidents Day to be moved to the third Monday of February so that employees could have a three-day weekend.

Due to this scheduling, the holiday will never actually fall on Washington’s real birthday. When the holiday’s date was changed to the third Monday of February, many people naturally thought this happened so that everyone could celebrate both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. This was due to the fact that Lincoln’s birthday also happened to be in February.

Since then, the holiday has been better known as Presidents’ Day to celebrate not one, but two presidents.

Simra Ahmed, freshman, said, “Presidents Day is very important for all kids to remember presidents in the past and to remember what they did for America and how it helps us today.”

Liliana Aguilar-Ocampo, freshman, said, “Personally I feel that it is important to give [presidents] a day to admire them and how they have constructed America and how they have formed a base for future presidents to work on.”

Mr. Staron, who teaches AP U.S History said, “Presidents Day, for me, is probably most important as a resident of Illinois to pause and have an opportunity to remember President Lincoln. It has extra meaning for me because of President Lincoln and the leadership he showed during the Civil War and his movement to free slaves.”

When asked about what he wanted students to know and remember about Presidents Day, Mr. Staron responded, “Leadership can matter and strong leadership doesn’t always have to be cruel leadership. Leadership that makes a difference can certainly be thoughtful and beneficial to humanity.”

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