Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents' Day

Today is a federal holiday, the first ever to honor an American citizen. Originally it was designed to commemorate the birth of George Washington (February 22nd), first President of the United States, sometimes called “The Father of His Country.” Later there was a move to do the same for President Abraham Lincoln (February 12th). And then a third holiday was proposed to honor the office of the Presidency. Some in congress evidently thought three holidays in February was a bit excessive. An early draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act would have renamed the holiday “Presidents’ Day” to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln (with a date selected that falls between their two birthdays). This draft failed in committee, however, and the bill as voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968, kept the name Washington's Birthday. President Nixon reportedly encouraged people to call it Presidents’ day in honor of all presidents, past and present. Indeed, some States include others in remembrance activities. Many people appreciate the holiday but don’t think much about the legacy American presidents leave behind or about their brains. Although ultimately fairly lucrative and iconic for holders of the office, in many ways it is a thankless and stressful position—because one brain can never please all brains all the time! I know that when I make presentations it is gratifying when some of the brains—some of the time—enjoy, find the information useful, and practically apply it.

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