The Wild Story of How Presidents' Day Became An Alternative Fact.

February 21, 2017

Today is the Federal holiday that Americans celebrate the forty-four different men who have served in the role of president of United States. 

Now, what a lot of people don't know is that Presidents' Day is probably the most American holiday that exist.

In 1879, the United States government designated February 22nd as "George Washington's Day." The date for the holiday coincided with George Washington's birthday, and it was was recognized as a holiday for Americans to honor the country's first commanding General and President.

 

George Washington Day's remained its original state for the next 92 years. Up to that point, Federal holidays were celebrated on their actual date of record. However, in 1971 lawmakers must have had a particularly bad case of the Mondays, because the passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Law.

As a result, George Washington's day was no longer held on George's birthday, and instead was designated as the 3rd Monday in February. Now, politicians making the "3-day weekend" the law of the land might seem as American as it gets, however when it comes to Washington's Day there was still more Americana to come.

 

Beginning in the late 1960's and carrying on into the 1980's law makers had sporadically battled to change "George Washington's Day" to "President's Day." The premise was that now that the holiday was no longer held on Washington's actual birthday, by renaming the holiday President's Day, the day could celebrate both Washington and President Abraham Lincoln, who's birthday was only 10 days after Washington's.

At the time, politicians correctly assessed that not all U.S. Presidents should be considered in the same esteem as the Father of America. Therefore, even though it was proposed several times throughout the years to change the holiday to President's Day, no bill would ever achieve enough votes to pass.

 

As America's first Commander and Chief, Washington actually lost many battles during the revolutionary war. However, Washington never once surrendered his army and relentlessly fought the British until finally achieving victory.

General Washington may have been able to outlast the British Royal Army to achieve America's freedom. However, in the 1980's the holiday that carried his name, ultimately faced an opponent that proved to be too mighty for even the Greatest American General to defeat.

 

So what could have forced George Washington's Day to surrender itself to being resigned as simply President's Day? Well, George Washington himself of course.

More specifically, it was the dollar bills, who's image President Washington graced, that dealt the death blow to the first President's holiday.

In the 1980's, advertisers saw a golden promotional opportunity. Following the successful sales trend of Labor Day, advertisers began to Market George Washington's Day, as "President's Day."

 

The idea was simple. President Lincoln's birthday had never achieved Federal holiday status. Therefore, advertisers billed consumers a new shopping holiday that would represent both of the great American Presidents birthdays.

To recap, in 1879 February 22nd would formally be marked as the day for Americans to remember and honor their founding father.

Then almost 200 years later, when the wars for independence were a thing of the past, the most important concern on the minds of American leadership, was how can we squeeze in an extra day to sleep in.

 

After, hitting the snooze button on the third Monday of February for a little over a decade, American consumerism decided to cross the Delaware to revolutionize America. However, this time it was through the airwaves of TV and radio, and not by boat.

Now, this all might seem like it is as Americana as it gets. However, George Washington's/President's Day still had one more Americanism left in it before it was done.

Now, remember I started out saying that this is the day that Americans recognize all 44 Presidents of the United States. Acknowledging all of the American Presidents was never the intention of anyone, including the retail advertisers of the 80's. So how did today go from a day for one, to a day for many? Well of course the final evolution of old poor George Washington's Day was a result of the Nazis.

 

Now, by Nazis, I am not talking about Nazi Germany. Rather, it was the grammar Nazis that we need to thank for forcing George Washington to have blow out his birthday candles with such contemporaries as President Zachary Taylor.

See the grammar Nazi's in newsrooms, and advertising firms throughout the country, assumed the day was supposed to be recorded as "Presidents' Day" with the apostrophe designating a day for "many." However, even at the onset, the day was passed off by marketers as "President's Day" as in "The President George Washington's Day." They only mentioned Lincoln in conjunction, de facto creating "President's Day" because they thought it might encourage African American shoppers based on Lincoln's link to the abolition of slavery.

 

Newspapers and Calendar Makers, never put any thought into it, and so ultimately, thinking they were being grammatically correct, the grammar Nazis inadvertently created an entirely new holiday, with an entirely new meaning attached to it.

Presidents' Day, was actually supposed to be President's Day, however technically it is STILL George Washington's Day.

So the most American thing that could happen, is the holiday actually morphed into a legitimate "alternative fact."

So on that note, Happy George Washington's Day Everyone! May your day be amazing and blessed.

 

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