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Hail to the chiefs: Presidents Day portrayed

Caroline Campbell
Associate Features Editor

Georgewashington
There is a nationwide debate on if the holiday should be Presidents Day or Washington’s Birthday. (Photo Courtesy of Flickr).

On February 15, elementary, middle and high schools had off, various employees had a three-day weekend and department stores slashed their prices. It’s the perks of Presidents Day.

The day was established in 1885 and celebrating George Washington’s birthday, it was originally called “Washington’s birthday” and was celebrated on February 22. The day commemorated the first U.S. president and his efforts in the Revolutionary War.

After the passing of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was being considered for being encompassed in the holiday, being born on February 12, but Congress denied this motion.

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“Washington’s birthday” day did not officially become a federal holiday until 1879, when Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law.

According to Snopes, in 1968, the Uniformed Holidays Bill or the Monday Holiday Act wanted to create more three-day weekends for federal employees to designated day, thus it moved President’s Day on the third Monday of February instead of February 22.

Lincoln
Some states celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on a different day than Presidents Day. (Photo Courtesy of Commonwikimedia.org)

Although the bill was passed and Hayes signed it into law, states are not obligated to adopt all federal holidays. Most states have stuck with the traditional name “Washington’s Birthday” and celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on a separate day. However, many say that the day should be called President’s Day.

Another, disagreement is which presidents should be honored on “President’s Day.” Washington? Lincoln? All of them?

The celebration now seems to have spread to encompass celebrating all the presidents, however some states say that it should only honor Washington and Lincoln respectively.

But in the spirit of inclusivity here are some fun facts about some of the U.S. presidents.

• George Washington left school at the age of 15 and became a surveyor.
• Abraham Lincoln did not have a middle name.
• James Madison was Princeton’s first graduate student.
• Theodore Roosevelt was blind in his left eye because of a boxing injury.
• Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born an American citizen of the U.S. All of the other presidents were born British subjects.
• Andrew Jackson taught his parrot to curse and had to be removed from Jackson’s funeral due to his foul language.
• John Tyler had 15 children.
• Zachary Taylor’s nickname was “Old Rough and Ready.”
• Gerald Ford worked as a model in college.
• Obama won a 2006 Grammy for his voice on “Dreams from My Father” audiobook.