Monday, February 20, 2006

President's Day

No day off today, I am working. So, seeing as how it’s evolved into a bit of tradition, I present to you some President’s Day holiday facts.

Did you know?

  • That contrary to popular belief, Presidents' Day (observed on the third Monday of February) honors Lincoln, Washington and ALL other past presidents of the United States of America. That means when you get elected, there's automatically a holiday honoring you - no matter how good (or not so good) you are at the job… I could say something about our current ‘Prez’ but it’s like shooting attorney’s in a field… it’s just too easy.
  • The Office of Personnel Management (OPM - the Federal Government’s Human Resources Agency) states that, according to federal law, President’s Day is officially called Washington’s Birthday
  • As far as historical scholars know, neither President Washington nor President Lincoln ever attended a President's Day sale.

Kemp’s Top Ten ‘President’s Day’ movies:

  1. The Phantom President
  2. Betty Boop for President
  3. The President Vanishes
  4. Kisses for My President
  5. The Virgin President
  6. Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President
  7. Olive Oyl for President
  8. The American President
  9. The President’s Analyst
  10. All the President’s Men

President’s Day Trivia:

  • President Taft was a large man and weighed about 322 pounds. A special bathtub was installed for him in the White House, big enough to hold four men.
  • There have been 5 left-handed Presidents: James Garfield, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, George Bush, and Bill Clinton.
  • During his presidency, Ulysses S. Grant was arrested and fined $20 for driving his horse too fast.
  • Nine Presidents did not attend college: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry S. Truman.

History of President’s Day

The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency). In 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead.

By the early 19th century, Washington's Birthday had taken firm root in the American experience as a bona fide national holiday. Its traditions included Birthnight Balls in various regions, speeches and receptions given by prominent public figures, and a lot of revelry in taverns throughout the land.

Then along came Abraham Lincoln, another revered president and fellow February baby (born on the 12th of the month). The first formal observance of his birthday took place in 1865 (the year after his assassination) when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address. While Lincoln's Birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington's, it did become a legal holiday in several states.

In 1968, legislation (HR15951) was enacted that affected several federal holidays, one of which was Washington's Birthday. The observation of his birthday was shifted to the third Monday in February each year whether or not it fell on the 22nd. This act, which took effect in 1971, was designed to simplify the yearly calendar of holidays and give federal employees some standard three-day weekends in the process.

Apparently, while the holiday in February is still officially known as Washington's Birthday it has become popularly (and, perhaps in some cases at the state level, legally) known as "President's Day." This has made the third Monday in February a day for honoring Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.

How about some past Presidential Campaign Slogans:

  • William Henry Harrison – “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”
  • James K. Polk – “5440 or fight”
  • Henry Clay – “Who is James K. Polk?” (Our thoughts exactly…)
  • Grover Cleveland – “Blain, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine” (at least it rhymed…)
  • James Blaine – “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha” (at least it rhymed…)
  • William McKinley – “A Full Dinner Party” (Isn’t that what Dolly Madison always said?)
  • Woodrow Wilson – “He kept us out of war”
  • Warren G. Harding – “Cox and cocktails” (I don’t even know where to begin…)
  • Dwight Eisenhower – “I like Ike” (At least it rhymed…)
  • Richard Nixon – “Nixon’s the One” (And number 2…)
  • Jimmy Carter – “Not just Peanuts” (But jelly…)
  • Ronald Reagan – “It’s morning again in America” (That’s how he remembered it anyway… sorry, that was in bad taste…)
  • Bill Clinton – “Putting People First” (Especially interns…)
  • George W. Bush – “Compassionate Conservatism” (Doesn’t apply to the VP while Quail hunting…)

Gratuitous President's Day photo: