George Washington Birthday
February 22, 2012 by staff
George Washington Birthday, Presidents Day came Monday, but the real reason for the three-day weekend arrives today, smack in the middle of the week.
The holiday commemorating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington fell on Monday in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, the 1968 congressional action that rendered a smorgasbord of holidays into a standardized three-day format. This enabled yet another three-day weekend from work and school, but as with other holidays, legislative intervention diluted the commemoration.
Today is the 280th birthday of George Washington, the father of our country and the namesake of our state. Feb. 22 first became a holiday in 1879 in the other Washington, and the rest of the country took it from there.
The official observance falls on the third Monday in February — between the Feb. 12 birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Washington’s birthday. Thus, congressional action brings about a Presidents Day that will never fall on either of the presidents’ actual birthdays. Perhaps this is Congress’ idea of a compromise.
It goes without saying: A state named after a president should honor that president with a holiday, and dutifully we do. Most other states have followed suit, some with their own twists: Massachusetts takes a separate day (May 29) to acknowledge the four presidents with roots in that state. Arkansas works in Presidents Day with Daisy Gatson Bates Day, honoring a civil-rights activist who was instrumental in the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Even in Washington the state, we’re not immune from adding our own accoutrements. Along with the 50-percent-off sales and an additional recreation day, the state features events like the Yakima Valley’s Red Wine and Chocolate event, an impressive tourist draw despite snowstorms that clogged passes on the key travel days.
We know George Washington as the lad who chopped down the cherry tree and then ‘fessed up, the general who won our country its freedom from the British and the president who artfully guided the nation through uneasy early years. Even if we whiled away the weekend on recreational pursuits, today marks a good time to take pause and refresh your memory on the man and his larger-than-life achievements. He is, by George, the man behind our state moniker.
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