As the brand new Congress (originally meeting in the city of New York) argued vehemently over what exactly to call their nation’s new leader, tempers flared.
Having just suffered to a great extent, life and limb, for freedom from Imperial government, the thought of a Royal title made some men in the room physically ill.
Others, having been reared in a history steeped in protocol and tradition found it difficult to shake what they had known all their lives: “titles”.
After more than a month of debate, a decision was finally reached. The man that would lead the new world would simply be referred to as: Mr. President.
It wouldn’t be until about 100 years later that Congress would create a Federal holiday to honor the birthday of the man who received that first honor: General George Washington. And even then, it started out as merely a Federal holiday for the D.C. area. Giving those in the nation’s Capitol a well deserved day off.
But Americans loved then, and still do, their famous George. And the idea caught on. In time, President’s Day came to be celebrated on that 3rd Monday of February by the masses as well.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Holiday Inn, with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, you will recall the shows they performed on those special days. One thing most folks may not remember is that, like The Holiday Inn, our nations citizens used to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday and George Washington’s separately and on different days. Not combined into one, as we do today.
Washington’s actual date of birth was February 22. And Lincoln’s birthday is the 12th. Interestingly, in the 1950’s there was a President’s Day Committee (that came out of California) whose goal was to turn the day into a celebration of merely the office of the Presidency.
We went from celebrating Lincoln’s Day and Washington’s Day to President’s Day. Then we went to Presidents-plural-in general-day. Clear as mud?
And there you have it. So, whether you are off celebrating today, or if you are at the workplace or office, you now have a bit of trivia behind all the Federal fuss. From what I hear, there are some great sales going on, too. But as we have snow and ice, and some roads are closed, I think I’ll hunker down, do a bit of remembering, and simply enjoy the day at home.
Just my thoughts. Yours?