Presidents Day

Ross Dunfee

While Presidents Day is a federal holiday, celebrated on the third Monday of February, it is not really a national holiday. Splitting hairs? In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holiday Act for observance of Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day to be celebrated on a Monday, but the actual dates for the holidays didn’t change. Thankfully, Congress did not have the power to change Washington’s actual birthday (Feb. 22, 1732) or the date of the armistice between Allied and German forces during WWI (Remembrance/Armistice/Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 1918). Previously, General Logan’s General Order No. 11 declared May 30 as Decoration (Memorial) Day. Congress did however, create three-day weekends for federal workers.

In order to have similar business hours with the federal government, some states followed suit. Other states left the celebrations on the actual dates of the events. While this creates as much confusion as Daylight Savings Time, it is up to each state to determine what holidays they wish to celebrate and when—those are the states’ rights.

Washington’s birthday celebration became official in 1885 when President Chester Arthur signed a bill making it a federal holiday and the holiday became known as Presidents Day. Meanwhile, there was President Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12, which never became a federal holiday but was celebrated as a legal holiday in many states outside the old Confederacy.

President Washington was arguably the most important figure in the creation of the United States and has a long list of accomplishments. President Lincoln additionally has a long list of accomplishments, most notably his abolishment of slavery and limitations on states’ rights. Both presidents are significant historical figures in shaping the Union and each has a monument in the mall in Washington DC.

While celebration of President Washington’s birthday was moved with the Monday Holiday Act, celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday (Feb. 12, 1809) was not. By 1940, there were 24 states and DC that celebrated Lincoln’s birthday, but that shrunk to five states after the Monday Holiday Act. There have been several attempts by Congress to recognize Lincoln’s birthday as a federal holiday, but none have succeeded. Now more states give employees time-off on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) than on President Lincoln’s birthday.

Consensus or confusion? Four states proclaim President’s Day (singular possessive), seventeen states proclaim Presidents’ Day (plural possessive) and five states proclaim Presidents Day (plural). Sixteen states celebrate Presidents Day, fifteen states observe Washington’s birthday, nine states do not observe a holiday on the third Monday in February, and the remainder observe a variety of other holidays. So, if you’re not confused yet, try writing this article. Whatever the holiday is called, car dealers love it.

Regardless of the confusion, our great republic was formed with three branches of government—Administrative, Legislative, and Judicial. The head of the Administrative branch, our President, is also Commander-in-Chief of our military. Support Our Troops – Arizona is proud to honor both the position and current and past Presidents by placing flags along the principal roadways in Robson Ranch on President (s, ‘s, s’) Day.

For questions about this article, contact Ross Dunfee at [email protected]. To learn more about SOT-AZ contact Stephen Reeves, president, at [email protected].