Sunday, February 19, 2006

Washington's Birthday, 2006

Today is not Presidents Day. You know why it's not Presidents Day? It's because there's no such thing.

What's that? All the banks and stores and everything have signs up talking about Presidents Day? Well, there's a reason for that. The world is overrun by idiots.

Today is the official celebration of George Washington's birthday. You know, the dude on the dollar. The Father of our Country. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. That George Washington.

George Washington was born February 11, 1732. Yes, February 11th. At least, 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 and the sun and everything. Anyhow, the Gregorian Calendar fixed most of those flaws. We still use the Gregorian Calendar 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. Anyway, George Washington was born on February 11, 1732 Old Style. And that's February 22, 1732 New Style.

Years later, in case you missed it in your American History class, 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 under the current Constitution.

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. The only federal holidays at the time were New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. In 1879, Washington's Birthday became the fifth federal holiday.

So, where did this Presidents Day nonsense come from? You can blame Bill Clinton.

Here's the deal. All the various federal holidays were celebrated on the actual day being observed. That meant on weekends sometimes, and during the middle of the week sometimes. And they said it cost extra money for a federal office to take off in the middle of the week. Plus having a Wednesday off between other weekday workdays limited families doing things.

So, in 1968, the movement to change many holidays to a nearby Monday really took off. And in 1971, Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11582, making the third Monday in February a holiday: Washington's Birthday. In fact, last year, I fell for the trap of blaming Richard Nixon for calling it "Presidents Day." I was wrong. Our 37th president did no such thing.

In the late 1990s, that whole Presidents Day thing really took off. Lots of wrong things happened in the late 1990s, so that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Still, today is officially Washington's Birthday, and is not and has never been President's Day. Take a look at United States Code (5 U.S.C. 6103) and check out the third holiday listed.

So, liberals don't have to honor Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, or George Bush (either one) today. Conservatives don't have to honor Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter today. Americans can honor George Washington.

We should all be able to agree on that.

UPDATE: Snopes backs me up on this. Good for them.


  1. Happy Washington's Birthday! Great post Basil!

  2. On the website of the Office of Personnel Management (The Federal Government's Human Resources Agency), a footnote says:
    ** This holiday is designated as "Washington's Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.
    Cool. Oh, and Happy Washington's Birthday!

  3. >other(s) ... may use other names

    Yeah, but call Martin Luther King's Birthday "Robert E. Lee's Birthday" and see what happens! :)

  4. Presidents' Day? What's that?...

    Basil shares one of my pet peeves....

  5. Best of Monday...

    Basil: Washington's Birthday, 2006
    Excerpt: So, where did this Presidents Day nonsense come from? You can blame Bill Clinton....

  6. Happy 274th...

    George Washington’s 274th birthday will be on Wednesday, but the government he bequeathed us has decided to observe it today. So, happy birthday, Mr. Washington.
    And no, this is most emphatically not “Presidents Day,” because there ...

  7. The Tuesday after the Week Before...

    News and Views from last weeks Blogs and News
    — I think I’ll get one of these Bumper Stickers, or maybe one of these Buttons.
    — Bin Laden and Al Zarqawi say they will not be taken alive… GOOD!
    — Read what American Sol...


Please choose a Profile in "Comment as" or sign your name to Anonymous comments. Comment policy