Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Presidents' Day 2013: Actually, Theres No Such Thing

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Presidents' Day 2013: Actually, Theres No Such Thing

Article excerpt

We know were swimming up a creek without a paddle here, but there is no federal Presidents Day holiday. We dont care what your mattress ad says is that a legal document?

The official name of Mondays day off is George Washingtons Birthday. Its supposed to honor the Father of Our Country, and only him. Not Abraham Lincoln, not Franklin D. Roosevelt, not any other of the nations former chief executives. Chester A. Arthur will just have to get his own holiday, if he can.

If you still dont believe us take a look at the federal governments Office of Personnel Management list of 2013 holidays. Its the official word for the time off US bureaucrats enjoy. It calls Monday, Feb. 18, Washingtons Birthday, with an asterisk. At the bottom of the page the asterisk leads to a footnote.

This holiday is designated as Washingtons Birthday in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees, says OPM. 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 law.

Washingtons Birthday has been a national holiday since 1885.

In 1968, when Congress was considering a shuffle of three-day weekends with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, some Illinois lawmakers tried to get the February holiday stretched to cover Abe Lincoln by calling it Presidents Day. But according to an account in the National Archives Prologue Magazine, Virginia legislators, jealous of their states prerogatives, blocked the change and maintained Washington as First in Our Hearts, First in the National League East, and First in Special-Today-Only Used Car Discounts.

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But this got us thinking. As OPM notes above, the states can do what they want. Illinois recognizes Lincolns Birthday as a separate state holiday, for instance. …

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