Today — February 22 — is the birthday of George Washington. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12. Do we have a federal holiday on the actual birth date of either of those two colossal historical figures, who generally rank as the two greatest Presidents in American history? No, we don’t.
Instead, we have a holiday called “Presidents’ Day” that is easily the lamest holiday of the year. There apparently were two steps in its creation. First, Congress — no doubt after heavy lobbying by the travel industry — decided to give people as many three-day weekends as possible. So, in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, Congress dictated that Washington’s Birthday would be celebrated on the third Monday in February, and not on Washington’s actual birthday. Then, the holiday somehow got broadened to include not just Washington, or even just Washington and Lincoln, but all Presidents through “Presidents’ Day.” It is such a phony, meaningless holiday that it isn’t even recognized by most businesses. What does it say about a holiday if most people don’t even get the day off?
George Washington deserves a holiday, and so does Lincoln. In reality, however, most Presidents don’t. There have been far more crappy Presidents than good Presidents. James Buchanan and Millard Fillmore were disastrous Presidents. They don’t deserve a holiday, they deserve to be forgotten. The same goes for Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon, among many others.
“Presidents’ Day” is like the modern practice of giving a trophy to every kid on a sports team, no matter whether his team wins or loses or whether the kid is talented or the most uncoordinated soccer player ever to stumble onto a field. (My God, James Buchanan even looks like the kind of hapless kid whose domineering mother insists that he get some kind of recognition regardless of his complete ineptitude.) It’s like we are trying to not hurt the self-esteem of the crummy Presidents, so we give them an embarrassing holiday that most of the country ignores. It’s time to get rid of Presidents’ Day. Let’s go back to recognizing a President who did make a difference, and actually celebrate his birthday on his real birth date.