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Presidents’ Day

By Dominick Pacileo, Staff Writer

Many students are well acquainted with the Presidents’ Day holiday, if only because it means a three-day weekend for them. However, there is a deep history behind the time-honored tradition. 

“Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers,” an article on History said.

The holiday was created as a way of celebrating George Washington’s birthday. Back in 1885, it was one of few bank holidays along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. It was also the only holiday celebrating a single person until Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law.

Eventually, the holiday was moved from Feb. 22 to Feb. 12 in order to ensure a three-day weekend for Americans. Incidentally, February 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The move was part of an effort by the government to create a wave of multiple three-day weekends. This decision was supported by not only the private sector, but also the labor unions, and it boosted retail sales.

Different states have a different interpretation of the holiday. Arkansas celebrates Washington along with Daisy Gatson Bates. Alabama commemorates Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Depending on which state one lives in, one will see the holiday celebrated in honor of different people.

Presidents’ Day is often seen by many students as an opportunity to show one’s patriotism and remember fallen veterans. During the Great Depression, Washington’s face would be on newspapers every Presidents’ Day. The date was also used to bring back the Purple Heart, a medal awarded to soldiers killed or wounded while serving in the army. Presidents’ Day is not just a device to honor the first president of the country. It is also a way of honoring all of the former presidents. So it’s not just a three-day weekend, it’s also a tribute to some of the great men that helped build the nation.

Several people on campus have also taken an interest in the holiday, including freshman business administration major Giancarlo Salazar.

“I was taught multiple different things [about the holiday],” Salazar said. “Most prominently, it’s Washington’s birthday which is celebrated annually.”

Washington was indeed one of the most important presidents in the history of the nation. Many school systems mention the significance of Presidents’ Day in their curriculum, if only in passing.

“I look forward to Presidents’ Day for the three day weekend,” Salazar said. “I usually celebrate by getting some work done or having an off day just for myself.”


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