Dean College

  • Why We Celebrate President's Day

    Presidents Day 2017

    On Monday, February 20th, 2017 Dean College will be closed in observance of President's Day. But why do we celebrate President's Day?

    The first President's Day was celebrated in 1800, the year following President George Washington’s death. His next birthday, February 22nd became a day of remembrance. Almost 80 years later, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed into law that Washington’s birthday be observed as a federal holiday in the District of Columbia. In 1885, the law expanded to include the whole country.

    In the 1960s, Congress proposed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Through this act, it would be law to shift some of the federal holidays from specific dates to predetermined Mondays. The purpose of the act was to create more three-day weekends for workers, and help reduce employee absenteeism. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect. This act permanently moved the holiday to a Monday.

    After the change, a shift in focus of celebration began. The new date of the holiday conveniently fell between both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays. After the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect, the holiday never again fell on any President’s birthday. So instead of celebrating just Washington’s birthday, the holiday morphed into a day to honor all U.S. President’s both past and present. However, to this day, it is still not officially called Presidents’ Day. According to the federal government and section 6103(a) of title 5 of the U.S. Code, it is still known as Washington’s Birthday.

    Today, President’s Day’s significance has become overshadowed by the frenzy of automobile, furniture and appliance sales that happen during the long weekend. But it is important to consider the reasons we set aside this holiday to honor the 45 Presidents of the United States. Here are a few quick fun facts about some of the past leaders of our country:

    • Ronald Reagan was a movie actor before he became President
    • Abraham Lincoln was the tallest President at 6 feet, 4 inches.
    • Ulysses S. Grant was given a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse and buggy too fast down a street in Washington DC.
    • James Madison was the first graduating student from Princeton University
    • James Garfield was ambidextrous – he could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, at the same time
    • John Tyler had 15 children, more than any other President
    • Barack Obama is a comic book collector. His favorite comic books are Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian

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