Happy Presidents Day!

Monday, February 18, 2013

When you get to be my age and you can remember how you were taught things. . . . Yes youngsters I can remember....though it seems soooooooo long ago! You have to wonder at times when everything changed!

I can remember when February rolled around, all of our classrooms displayed bulletin boards (no computers in those days!) and celebrated two Presidents each together and each separate, but they stayed in place for the whole month because we celebrated on separate days.

I have to admit that Abe Lincoln has always been one of my favorite Presidents and I had never considered that he would not have a place! He has inspired me in one way or another throughout my life and he is still doing it today! As when I want to feel sorry for myself I remember these famous words and carry them in my heart:

“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

So my curiosity got the best of me when I was trying to remember when it changed so I looked it up. So here is the evolution of President's Day.

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

When Abraham Lincoln became president and helped reshape our country, it was believed he, too, should have a special day of recognition. Tricky thing was that Lincoln’s birthday fell on February 12th. Prior to 1968, having two presidential birthdays so close together didn't seem to bother anyone. February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday to honor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In 1968, things changed when the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays. They voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington's Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971, and as a result, Washington's Birthday holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. But not all Americans were happy with the new law. There was some concern that Washington's identity would be lost since the third Monday in February would never fall on his actual birthday. There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday "Presidents' Day", but the idea didn't go anywhere since some believed not all presidents deserved a special recognition.

Even though Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Some states, like California, Idaho, Tennessee and Texas chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday "President's Day." 

So what follows is my personal tribute to these two great men who though long ago still lead!

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Wikipedia

Born: February 12, 1809, Hodgenville, KY
Died: April 15, 1865, Petersen House
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Spouse: Mary Todd Lincoln (m. 1842–1865)
Children: Robert Todd Lincoln, Tad Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln,Edward Baker Lincoln
Vice presidents: Andrew Johnson, Hannibal Hamlin

A great poem about Lincoln:

A Farmer Remembers Lincoln by: Witter Bynner (1919)

Well, I was in the old Second Maine,
The first regiment in Washington from the Pine Tree State.
Of course I didn’t get the butt of the clip;
We was there for guardin’ Washington—
We was all green.

“I ain’t never ben to the theayter in my life—
I didn’t know how to behave.
I ain’t never ben since.
I can see as plain as my hat the box where he sat in
When he was shot.
I can tell you, sir, there was a panic
When we found our President was in the shape he was in!
Never saw a soldier in the world but what liked him.

“Yes, sir. His looks was kind o’ hard to forget.
He was a spare man,
An old farmer.
Everything was all right, you know,
But he wasn’t a smooth-appearin’ man at all—
Not in no ways;
Thin-faced, long-necked,
And a swellin’ kind of a thick lip like.

“And he was a jolly old fellow—always cheerful;
He wasn’t so high but the boys could talk to him their own ways.
While I was servin’ at the Hospital
He’d come in and say, ‘You look nice in here,’
Praise us up, you know.
And he’d bend over and talk to the boys—
And he’d talk so good to ’em—so close—
That’s why I call him a farmer.
I don’t mean that everything about him wasn’t all right, you understand,
It’s just—well, I was a farmer—
And he was my neighbor, anybody’s neighbor.
I guess even you young folks would ‘a’ liked him.”

George Washington

George Washington was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, serving as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Wikipedia.

Born: February 22, 1732, Westmoreland County
Died: December 14, 1799, Mount Vernon
Full name: George Washington
Presidential term: April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
Buried: Mount Vernon
Children: John Parke Custis, Martha Parke Custis

George Washington by: James Russell Lowell (1875)

   A fragment from the ode for the centenary of Washington’s
    taking command of the American army at Cambridge

Soldier and statesman, rarest unison;
High-poised example of great duties done
Simply as breathing, a world’s honors worn
As life’s indifferent gifts to all men born;
Dumb for himself, unless it were to God,
But for his barefoot soldiers eloquent,
Tramping the snow to coral where they trod,
Held by his awe in hollow-eyed content;
Modest, yet firm as Nature’s self; unblamed
Save by the men his nobler temper shamed;
Never seduced through show of present good
By other than unsetting lights to steer
New-trimmed in Heaven, nor than his steadfast mood
More steadfast, far from rashness as from fear,
Rigid, but with himself first, grasping still
In swerveless poise the wave-beat helm of will;
Not honored then or now because he wooed
The popular voice, but that he still withstood;
Broad-minded, higher-souled, there is but one
Who was all this and ours, and all men’s—WASHINGTON.

Have a great holiday if you have it! For those of us who don't, we will enjoy the thoughts!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon emoticon
    1855 days ago
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    1855 days ago
    I admired Lincoln & words are an inspiration thanks for the posting
    1856 days ago
    Nice insight in some of your country's history! Thank you for the info! emoticon
    Have a beautiful day! emoticon emoticon
    1856 days ago
    Thank you for the info!

    I too have always been a fan of Honest Abe. I am currently reading a book called "Manhunt - The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer"

    It promising to be very interesting.

    I am also on the list for "Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter" at the Library - I hear it is a very fun take on history and actually ends up being very informative (and entertaining)

    Happy Monday Friend!
    1856 days ago
  • KERRYG155
    Thanks for the extra info! I just never could understand this moving of birthdays and I think both or actually all presidents have been lost in the celebration as it's become just a big shopping day.
    1856 days ago
    What a wonderfuol blog and tribute to those Presidents. Lincoln has some wonderful quotes. What a man to look up to..both he and Washington. Thanks for the mempory of the holidays. I remember just what you were talking about. Our school did the same thing.
    1856 days ago
    One of our granddaughter's is doing a paper on President Truman. With her it is about getting the information and getting a good grade. For me it is finding out what he was all about. Why is it that we have to be older to truly enjoy learning. Those times were good because God was honored and revered not being taken out of schools and businesses. I remember a wonderful speech President Regan gave to Congress about God and country. Ah, those were the days.
    1857 days ago
    Thanks for the great blog!

    1857 days ago
    emoticon for sharing stories about two great presidents! I have not been in history class in so long I actually forgot their stories! We need to remember them because they did teach us so much! I wished the presidents we had now days could teach us as much! Have a great President's Day! emoticon emoticon
    1857 days ago
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