Monday, February 21, 2005

Washington's Birthday

Today is the official observation of Washington's Birthday. It is not Presidents Day. Let me state that again: it is not Presidents Day. And, just in case you aren't clear: it is not Presidents Day.

There is no such thing as Presidents Day. It doesn't exist. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think we've had some good presidents, some worthy of celebrating. I also think we've had some low-lifes that should have ended up in a cage and been poked with sticks. But that's not the topic today. Today's topic is Washington's Birthday.

George Washington was born February 11, 1732. What's that? His birthday is the 22nd? Well, yes, but when George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the calendar said February 11th. You see, calendars have had problems over the years. And the American Colonies were using the same calendar as Great Britain, and they used the Julian Calendar. The problem was, the Julian Calendar had a flaw. And that flaw caused the calendar to get out of sync with the Earth's position around the sun. Well, the Gregorian Calendar fixed the flaws, pretty much. In fact, we're using it today. But they had a situation back then. Once England made the jump from Julian to Gregorian in 1752, that meant that dates in the past changed. What was February 11, 1732 became February 22, 1732. It was this same kind of delay that accounts for the Russian October Revolution being celebrated in November. You see, they didn't adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1918. But we were talking about Washington's Birthday.

Once the whole calendar thing got all straightened out, people started celebrating Washington's Birthday on February 22nd. Well, the Washington family did. The rest of us didn't care. Actually, most of us weren't around then. But those that were, didn't care. Except friends and family of the little cherry tree killer. Okay, that story didn't really happen, buy you get my point. Well, actually, that's not my point. My point is: It's not Presidents Day. It's George Washington's Birthday.

George Washington led the American forces in the Revolutionary War, culminating in the British surrender and recognition of the United States of American as a soverign nation. After several unsuccessful governments were established under the Articles of Confederation, a new Constitution was adopted. The electors unanimously selected Washington as the first President, the only person ever so honored, although James Monroe came 1 vote shy in 1820.

As a military officer and a statesman and politician, Washington was one of the most respected Americans. And, his birthday was celebrated by the states. In 1879, Washington's Birthday became the fifth federal holiday, joining New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

In 1968, the movement to change many holidays to a nearby Monday began. In 1971, Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11582, and in the process, used the phrase "Presidents Day," although that phrase isn't in the actual order. The thing that gets me is, most of the people who always held Nixon up as a liar also use the phrase "Presidents Day" instead of "Washington's Birthday." Go figure.

Anyway, the holiday is officially Washington's Birthday, and has always been Washington's Birthday. If you still don't believe me, take a look at United States Code (5 U.S.C. 6103) and check out the third holiday listed.

And, if you want to spread ignorance and call it "Presidents Day," don't do it around me. I think celebrating George Washinton's Birthday is a good thing. But if you don't think George Washington's Birthday is worthy of celebrating, take your ass to work.

14 comments:

  1. I don't like George Washington very much. He creeps me out. Maybe it's the mental picture I had as a youngster of another little kid running around chopping down trees with an axe. It could also be the fact that George looks remarkably like my grandmother.

    In honor of Presidents Day, I put up a tribute to the most worthless of U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter, on my blog. I thought it would be novel to celebrate extreme mediocrity.

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  2. The Big Sister (who's 5'4")February 21, 2005 at 2:13 AM

    What a wonderful history lesson. You ought to teach; students would love learning history from you, a person who makes history come alive.
    Happy Washington's Birthday, basil!

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  3. Thanks! Cool info. Some I knew and had forgotten and some was just new. Love learning something.

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  4. Monday Etiquette

    It's Presidents Day, no it's Washington's birthday if you read Basil's rant discussion.

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  5. Fox news has an article about this, looks like Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has taken up your cause too.

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  6. Yes! And MY BIRTHDAY happens to fall on the anniversary date of the Bolshevik Revolution...November 7!

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  7. The Mailbag: Presidents Day

    It's time, once again, to answer one of the many reader e-mails that pour into the WuzzaDem inbox on a daily basis. Reader 'Jimmy' from Mesa, AZ writes to say: Dear WuzzaDem, I'm fourteen years old and I enjoy your

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  8. Today's History Lesson...

    ...comes to us courtesy of Basil.

    Just in case you really think today is "Presidents' Day"....

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  9. I'm with ya all the way on this one. I've been waiting to pounce all day but you beat me by 24 hours! Great rant!

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  10. So Abe's birthday celebration just falls into oblivion?

    Seriously, I understand where you're coming from but the celebration of the two great presidents has been combined. That's the reality, at least for the moment.

    BTW, for your shameless plugging, you get a link! :-)

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  11. Presidents' Day: George Washington (UPDATED)

    Whew! It's getting too serious in here. For the Father of the Country, time to lighten up and post a few fun and interesting facts. (Of course I can't vouch for the truth of any of these, so take them

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  12. First, thanks for the link!!

    Second, yes, Honest Abe loses out on the deal.

    Third, Lincoln should get his own day. I don't want him lumped in with Warren Harding or Millard Fillmore.

    Fourth, I propose second Monday for Lincoln, fourth Monday for Washington.

    Fifth, there is no number five.

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  13. Solid post. You might enjoy my own Washington's birthday reflections. There aren't too many of us die-hards reminding folks of the real holidays.

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