Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents Day and a History Lesson

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills, in Keystone, South Dakota. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son,  Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799),  Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and  Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).

Celebrating Presidents Day as a holiday did not come about until around the last four decades, but its roots go back to our first president. How did we come to celebrate the third Monday in February as "Presidents Day"? The Celebration of Washington's Birthday although Presidents Day is now recognized as honoring the birthdays of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln, the holiday started as just a celebration of Washington's birthday.

Depending on which calendar system you ascribed to (Julian or Gregorian) in the time of the Founding Fathers, Washington's birthday fell either on February 11 or February 22. To celebrate his birth, early Americans celebrated on February 22. However, the celebration wasn't written into federal law until 1880, making Washington the first person to be honored with a federal holiday.

By the 20th century, ideas had begun to shift around the celebration of Washington's birthday. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act into law in 1968, shifting Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Washington's Birthday to Mondays in order to lengthen weekends and allow more time to travel for people to be with their families.

No comments: