Today was Presidents Day. Every time this holiday rolls around I am reminded of an editorial piece I read several years ago in the local Akron Beacon Journal which brought up an important concept about this national holiday and its poorly chosen title. Though I had a basic understanding about the history of this federally observed holiday, sadly the ideas brought up in this newspaper article hadn’t struck me fully until after its reading.
As I’m sure most of us know, originally Presidents Day was not called “Presidents Day,” but rather a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. This of course is indeed a noble cause for celebration. George Washington was a father of our nation, leader of our homegrown revolution, and first president of our free nation. There is no one, even in todays poisonous political environment, who would argue that a recognized celebration of the life of George Washington would be out of order as a nationwide observance. Likewise, there was at one time a celebration of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The leader of our nation who struggled to maintain our union throughout a divisive and bloody civil war. President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, undoing the shameful practice which lingered far too long in this country. Though the legitimacy of exulting our 16th president might be in question by the last of our country’s hold-out idiot bigots, the majority of our citizens understand the importance of this influential and important president.
Two separate celebrations for two separately extraordinary leaders of the United States. However at some point in history (I’m not a facts guru, go look it up) it was deemed that two days off was one too many, and the celebrations of Washington and Lincoln were combined into a single observance called Presidents Day. Which, under that broad title thusly diminishes the honor of the individual men previously heralded. Essentially, in the mind of the general public, Presidents Day became the sweeping celebration of a position of power, and not the celebration of the wise few who have wielded such power with great distinction.
Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush. As I recall these were not popular men in our nations history, or at least they each had very troubled moments during their reigns, in terms of popularity. Whatever your political views are, or your personal views of the aforementioned three presidents, it is safe to say that none of that trio will ever be revered as a great watermark in American political history.
I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of how your political stance leans or how terrible our modern political environment might seem it is important to remember that there were a few select Presidents of the United States who performed truly great deeds and exhibited the qualities needed to induce a nations veneration. Those are the individuals we should be celebrating on Presidents Day, I would suggest we change the title to “Awesome Presidents Day” or perhaps “Above Average Presidents Day” I just have a problem with lumping them all together in a single uninformed observance. Although I can not remember the author of that commentary from my local newspaper I am thankful I read it, and was thusly inspired to remember the important aspects of this national holiday. So take a moment to think about what your country might be like without the two gentlemen seen below.
That is all!