The man who changed society, but doesn’t have his own holiday

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This month, a holiday we call Presidents’ Day is approaching. Students and teachers here at West look forward to the extra day off school and an extended weekend. We are led to believe this celebrates both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, the two iconic presidents whose birthdays occur around this time. However, this holiday was originally created in 1885 to celebrate President George Washington.   There is no holiday to commemorate Lincoln outside of state holidays.

According to Biography, a company under the A&E Television Networks, Lincoln was plainly the 16th president of the United States. However, beyond just that objective fact, the article says, “Lincoln used every power at his disposal to assure victory in the Civil War and end slavery in the United States.” This is what he is most known for and what is most emphasized when people learn about him. His largest impact was helping in the termination of slavery in the United States. This makes him one of the most influential civil rights activists in American history. This leaves one question: why did he not earn a holiday?

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist of the 1960s. This is a federal holiday. This is a clear indication of a civil rights impact and is a valid reason for federal commemoration. Lincoln logically should qualify for this. According to an article by History, in the 1960s, there was an act passed by Congress known as the Uniform Mondays Act. The article continues to say one part of this act was to rename Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day to celebrate Lincoln as well. However, the article says this provision was dropped because of opposition from certain states. Consequently, the day remained named Washington’s Birthday.

History also mentions, despite this decision, that many states decided to make the holiday known as Presidents’ Day to commemorate Washington as well as Lincoln. This is an improvement, but still does not address the substantial impact of Lincoln on modern society and culture.

Bottom line: Lincoln deserved a day to be remembered. Washington was influential as well and should not be forgotten, but Lincoln should still either be celebrated independent of Washington or along with him on a more inclusive Presidents’ Day. This consideration should be beyond a handful of states, considering his effect was national. This month, let’s not neglect Lincoln’s accomplishments while celebrating Washington’s Birthday; instead, let’s recognize them both for their devotion to our society.