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As Long as We Remember...

February 13, 2014

Cartoon Characters Holiday

Chris Cavey

Did you know that Monday, February 17, 2014, is actually Washington's Birthday celebration and not "Presidents Day?" Well, look it up. We have been mislead once again by Madison Avenue and seemingly given incorrect information by our federal government.


Just for a minute, think about what we as a society have done.


George Washington, the Father of our Country, was born February 11, 1731, as recorded on the "old style" calendars. When Great Britain and the "Colonies" adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, good old George's date of birth shifted to become February 22, 1732 – the date we learned in school.


Back in the day (pre-1971), we used to celebrate birthdays for both George Washington and Honest Abe Lincoln, too. It was great! No school on February 12 and then, 10 days later, another day off! If you were lucky there would even be a big winter storm in February. Ah, those were the days.


Sure, maybe back then, you learned about Abe and George in class and maybe you didn't, but you sure knew when the birthdays were and the fact these men were important enough that school was closed. Not so today.


Since 1971 we have totally forgotten about Abe's birthday. I think only Republicans born before 1965 really remember the date. It is a crying shame, too. Lincoln always rates in the top two most popular presidents in every poll. He held the Union together, freed the slaves and earned his place on the penny, yet takes a back seat to Washington in the birthday category every time.


Washington was a great man. He accomplished great things and everyone agrees; yet, because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, we never actually celebrate on his actual birthday – using the old or new calendar system. What! How screwed up is that? Our first and arguably greatest president and we "shift" his birthday to create a long weekend so we can buy cars or mattresses. Come on!


But wait! It gets better! Not only do we completely blow off Abe's birthday and move George's birthday for the benefit of our lifestyle, but some ad agency decided it should be now called "Presidents Day." Now it's just a generic celebration that happens to fall on the third Monday of each February and Washington and Lincoln are reduced to cartoon characters, who hawk mattresses.


Adding insult to injury, most children now believe it is a day to celebrate all presidents. This means our two greatest presidents have been made equal with all the others – nothing special, no longer noble enough to support their own holiday. They are now lumped in with William Henry Harrison and James A. Garfield in the eyes of our children and grandchildren.


I am saddened that these great men have lost their identity to the luxury of a three-day weekend and are reduced to pitchmen of auto manufacturers. History is important. Our forefathers and their stories are important. Celebrating that history with future generations is important.


I feel sure the only reason we don't celebrate the 4th of July using the Uniform Monday Holiday Act is because it would be too confusing for advertisers – plus I think Congress is in recess during July, so they don't care.


Happy Birthday, George and Abe! I haven't forgotten – and still care.


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