On President Trump’s 72nd Birthday, let’s celebrate the office our Constitution created.
Happy President’s Day! – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan)
“To the memory of the Man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
These are the words of Henry Lee upon the death of our first President, George Washington. Americans throughout the 1800s, cherishing these words, unofficially and spontaneously celebrated the Father of their Country’s birthday every February 22, his actual birthday. President Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1879, signed a law making the day an official holiday, and it became a national federal holiday in 1885. The day was simply known as Washington’s Birthday.
The holiday has changed in two ways since President Hayes signed it into law. First, it has become a “celebration” of all American Presidents, the institution itself; second, it is celebrated every third Monday of February. Here’s how these changes came about.
Did you notice all the “President’s Day” sales ads? This is why the holiday was moved to the third Monday of February, to give us a three day weekend and provide a boost to the economy. The movement began in the 1960s with Illinois Senator Robert McClory, who would later work on the U.S. House Judicial Committee during the Watergate Scandal, when he took the lead in presenting the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This Act called for, among other things, the moving of the official celebrations of Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day to specific Mondays. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-82/pdf/STATUTE-82-Pg250-3.pdf
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1971.
Another reason the holiday was moved to the third Monday of February was Abraham Lincoln. There was no federal holiday honoring him and it was about time we did. But do we have two holidays in February, one for Washington and one for Lincoln? A practical solution was settled upon. Honest Abe was born on February 12, Washington on February 22, so instead of creating two separate holidays in the same month they combined both into one and re-named the day, Presidents’ Day.
Today we’ve come to celebrate, by custom, all the Presidents on this day, the institution itself. The original holiday was a spontaneous patriotic celebration the Father of our Country, the services he rendered to America in both war and in peace and the principles he stood for. Why do we celebrate today? Let me tell you my reasons:
It’s now the 1970s, Richard Nixon is president. It was uncovered that he was spying on the Democratic Party during the election. We know it as the Watergate Scandal. President Nixon had foolishly claimed about presidential power, “When the President does it that means it’s not illegal.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMt8qCl5fPk
That sounds like he’s claiming the divine right of kings! Congress wanted Nixon to turn over the tapes, Nixon said no. The Supreme Court voted unanimously to side with Congress. Nixon then resigned knowing the tapes would expose him.