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George Who? What Happened to Washington’s Birthday?

Written on Friday, February 18, 2011 by

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presidents day

“If we do this [change the date of the Washington holiday celebration], ten years from now our school children will not know what February 22 means. They will not know or care when George Washington was born. They will know that in the middle of February they will have a three-day weekend for some reason. This will come.” Theses prophetic words, passionately argued by Tennessee Congressman Dan Kuykendall over 40 years ago have come true. Ask most school kids today why February 22nd is special, and they will probably give you a blank stare.

The passage of the Uniform Monday Federal Holiday Law in 1968 triggered an avalanche that would bury “the father of our country,” along with his guiding virtues and reminders of how and why the U.S. was born.

Washington inspired his contemporaries and countless American s since, motivating others to emulate him. Washington set the gold standard for presidents and private character. “His example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting,” wrote John Marshall in Washington’s official eulogy. “The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues.”

And, “More than any other,” says Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., Washington “made possible our republican form of government.”

When we grew up, celebrating George Washington’s birthday was a big deal, and you couldn’t help but be inspired by him. We studied him, what he stood for and what he did to bring America to fruition. Mary Beth’s grandmother, a patriotic American if you ever met one, loved that she shared the same birth date with Washington, always having a birthday cake covered with cherries and American flags.

When faced with the crisis of the Civil War, a council from Philadelphia came begging Washington’s Farewell Address be read as a morale booster and bulwark to a teetering and fear-filled country. Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson introduced the petition in the Senate. “In view of the perilous condition of the country,” he said, “I think the time has arrived when we should recur back to the days, the times, and the doings of Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, who founded the government under which we live.”

In his Farewell Address, Washington’s advice to the nation was to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, protect American independence and encourage morality and religion. The reading of the Farewell Address in the Senate remains an annual event, even if his advice is ignored there.

Since the 1968 law makes it a federal holiday individual states dropped the ball in celebrating Washington’s Birthday. Historian C.L. Arbelbide says, “For students in Texas, the renaming of the states Washington holiday to “President’s Day” established the beginning of generations of children whose connection to Washington was fading.” In the 2004-2205 school year, of Virginia’s 134 school districts (Washington’s own home state), only two listed on their internet sites the correct “Washington Birthday” title for the holiday. But Virginia’s not alone, other states and their schools have similar records.

Across the country, school districts have dropped Columbus Day, Veterans Day and the misnamed, generic sounding President’s Day.

Remember Washington’s deeds and heed his advice. A step in the right direction would be to correctly attach February 22nd to the federal George Washington’s Birthday holiday. This year Washington’s Birthday holiday falls on the 21st, the closest it can be to his actual birthdate, since Congress in 1968 changed the Federal holiday to the third Monday in February.

“His example is now complete,” said John Adams,” and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read.”

George Washington was a man of honor known for his great leadership and character.

“Wherever men love liberty, wherever they believe in patriotism, wherever they exalt high character, by universal consent they turn to the name of George Washington,” said Calvin Coolidge. “No occasion could be conceived more worthy, more truly and comprehensible American, than that which is chosen to commemorate this divinely appointed captain.”

©2011 Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, e-mail browns@caglecartoons.com. Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Floyd is also president of the Western Center for Journalism. For more info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or e-mail cari@cagle.com

Floyd’s latest book (with Lee Troxler) is “Killing Wealth, Freeing Wealth,” from WND Books. Mary Beth’s latest book is featured at www.condibook.com. Time magazine wrote of Floyd: “Brown has stature among devoted conservatives that almost matches his physical heft (6 ft. 6 in. and 240 lbs.)” See more at Floyd’s blog at www.2minuteview.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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  • Loraine Isenberger

    We celebrate President’s day in honor of both Washington and Lincoln. I can remember when we had school off for both. Yes, the date will be forgotten. Look at Armistice Day, Memorial Day.

    • http://patriotupdate jlbs

      I, too, remember when we honored both Lincoln and Washington on the 12th and 22th, respectively. However, we did not get the day off from school. Instead we reviewed what great men came before us allowing us to aspire to be like them.

      I also remember the decision to combine the birthdays and how disappointed I was. I don’t think I was able to verbalize it at the time, but I think I knew that somhow both men were being diminished by some degree. For years, I reminded my children of each individual day of honor.

      We need to restore honor, not only to men like this but to ourselves and work to right the wrongs from the last 50 decades or more.

    • signman

      Likewise, I too remember when we studies both Lincoln and Washington as well as having the day off from school. We have shoved both off our list to remember. That is tipical of this age. We have also shoved God out of this nation.
      We are losing this very fast. I don’t see our nation rising up to take back our hertiage. I don’t have many years left, yet I see our children growing up not knowing who our fathers were.

    • The Great Ricardo

      Our children will know what WE!, The Parent’s teach them. It’s obvious that it will be up to us to help them understand the “Why’s” the “Who’s” and the “Where’s”. It was The Patriot’s who brought Freedom to this Country. ‘guess we just might have to do it again.

  • Lone Ranger

    Slowly chipping away the history of our nation until someday our roots will be forgotten. Then what???

    • Ron

      Yeah, we can forget our greatist Presidents, but by GOD not Martin Luther King day, and he was no President

    • John

      As a reminder to all you true Americans…don’t forget Black History month, which is February.

    • kingfish

      When is white history month?

    • ready for battle

      you are not allowed to have anything WHITE..I am just waiting for o-butt-hol to paint the white house BLACK..

    • http://Yahoo.com Thomas Martin

      How right you are on that Ron, they just shove that Martin Luther King holiday down our throats too. I always ask some people why they have their lights on that day, and they say well it’s Martin Luther Kings day, and I say who’s that just to see their faces.LMAO

    • Mr Wade

      MLK Day? I celebrate James Earl Ray Day

    • gntrker

      Then you will be kissing the feet of a muslim.

    • Christy

      It’s left up to those of us who recognize there is a problem, that we have a problem in the present Admin, and that we are strong-minded individuals who can accomplish many things. I have sworn to quit using PC words, I am swearing to speak my mind when I can and always to speak the truth. The only word I haven’t heard from the Republicans is impeachment. When that happens, I’ll know we have done our job. I don’t see how we can withstand another two years of Obama. He is destroying everything near and dear to our Country and doing it deliberately. In my opinion, all bets are off the table. Quit babysitting Obama and give him what he deserves – impeachment for violations to our Constitution and operating a socialist, marxist agenda in the WH.

  • Helene Robinson

    I have been on a personal mission with Chase Bank and now Wells Fargo who are NOT observing President’s Day on Monday. However they were closed for MLK Day. I think you make a great point the the name has been removed and now everyone knows about MLK. If you agree with me please email nn.stankiewicz@chase.com and the CEO jamie.dimon@jpmorgan.com telling them that they are Un-American.

  • Mmom

    This is what they are doing-taking away our history!!!! Kids aren’t going to know anything about our countries past. This is so sad!!
    This so called President is going to make sure of it!

    • Ken

      It’s so Congress and Obummer can rid theirselves with the Constitution so that Socialism can thrive without question.

    • Mmom

      Exactly!!

    • James

      Someday it will no longer be called President’s Day. It will be called Obama’s Birthday. Maybe they can find his birth certificate by then.

    • BenUSMC

      They’ll never find his birth certificate
      because he wasn’t born. He crawled out
      from under a rock.

  • pamela

    Feb always meant Lincoln and Washingtons birthday, with lots of flags flying. Then I hear of a merchant in Phoenix that is ordered to take his flags down for Presidents day. I don’t think so, these are American presidents and our flag is a symbol of this. Who are these Jerks that think they can order the American flag down. I hope many of the verterans get on this band wagon and tell these people to stick it.

    • James

      Pamela,I have never heard it called Lincoln and Washington’s birthday and I KNOW I have been around longer than you have. You just voted it a new name. It’s for ALL Presidents. And Washington came before Lincoln!!!

    • Worried for US

      Wrong…. when I was still in school, they decided to take the two holidays – Washington and Lincoln’s Birthdays – and make them into one holiday. We were told it was so we didn’t get too many days off school because they started giving off for Martin Luther King. This year, a school tried making the kids attend classes because they’ve had so many days off from the snow, but the “civil rights’ people blasted the idea so the kids got off. I have never seen the same done for these two great men! We’ve had to send our kids to school if the system decided they needed to make up the days! Anyway…. just wanted to make sure you remembered the correct reason for the change. I never agreed with the change because our President’s deserve to be remembered better! Funny… as a school kid, I said the same — in the future, no one would remember Washington or Lincoln’s birthdays and that one day they will take even the one day of rememberance away!

  • rtpeffer

    I agree with the fact that our teachers do not teach Early American history, our founding, because it doesn’t mesh up with their socialism plans. I think all Federal,
    state and local employees should not get off these monday’s, we don’t. Only paid holiday
    would be for Veteran’s, all businesses, I own a small business, would GLADLY pay a Vet
    to be honored with a day off to reflect.

    • Jobabba

      GOD BLESS YOU and GOD BLESS OUR VETS!!!!

  • http://x Patty

    I had the good fortune of being born on Feb. 22. Every year in school was a holiday,so I was lucky. George Washington, if you study history, was one of the finest men ever and and intregate part of the founding of America. Long live his memory and may we celebrate it forever in thanks to his super human efforts on our behalf. God bless you, Mr. Washington

    • Lisa

      Happy Birthday!

  • judy

    the lib/dems did away with it when they thought by honoring lincoln it would be better. the great emanicipator wanted the souths money pure and simple. just like now thank god my daughters high school teachers liking the truth teach it. he did not care about the slaves. just the money for the north like chicago now

  • Bonnie

    Why does Martin Luther King have a special day. Riduculous.

    • ready for battle

      Because he was BLACK…I would love to know where they get all there money. they never had a job they don’t have a church..Jackson has to pay his whore in calf.. about a mi. per year to support that little bastard they had…they all get bundles of money ever year some place..and wrangle should have got about 20 years and all he got was a pat on his little hand..

  • Bonnie

    I did the required fields.!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alan

    I remember having both Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthday off from school and it didn’t bother me when they combined it into President’s Day but how much of these great men is still being taught in school? I was totally distressed when I saw Washington’s statue covered in a box on MLK’s day so it “wouldn’t offend anyone”. Well, I was offended. How would those same people, celebrating MLK, feel if we covered his statue on President’s Day? And, why should any one person have a day named for only themself and lump our presidents into one day? Something is very wrong with this country when we don’t give our past leaders .. Washington through Bush (omit bo),the due they deserve.

  • http://www.kidon.com/media-link MalikTous

    ‘1984
    Knocking at your door
    Will you let it come
    Will you let it run your life?’

    Hell no! Washington was important even in my childhood, even if they didn’t let us off for it. Certainly more to me than ‘Valentines’. I still mark Washington Day (22nd), Lincoln, and other key figures; I ignore and despise ‘Valentines’, though I do mark Lupercalia. I’ll toss Komrad Klinton and Obummer and keep Washington!

  • Eric

    This IS what Political Correctness TO THE EXTREME looks like! Political Correctness is NEUTERING this GREAT NATION! It MUST stop before it’s too late!

  • k. shields

    Formerly-revered men of honor are all but forgotten in our leaders’ zeal to give the American public what it thinks it wants, which is apparently more three-day weekends. This is shameful and graceless. Gee, imagine, kids; at one time we actually had days off that came on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, we were supposed to celebrate the spirit of the leaders who made the country great on their birthdays. But no, now Monday suits the masses: another three day weekend…Maybe someday we can take the closest Monday to December 25th and instead of calling it “Christmas”, we can call it “Baby Jesus’ Monday” and forget December 25th altogether in favor of another 3 day weekend…

    • Betsy Crowell

      No, they won’t call it Baby Jesus Monday; they’ll call it something like Winter Holiday Monday.

    • Jobabba

      Well the Progressives already don’t want Christmas to be called Christmas! They call it a Winter Holiday! And some Schools are doing it.

  • Ron

    I once heard an army chaplain state that next to Jesus Christ that Martin Luther King Jr. was the greatest person who ever lived. That was when I walked out of the meeting.

  • 2WarAbnVet

    I’ve always been puzzled by those studies that attempt to rank the Presidents. As best I can determine, there’s George Washington who defined the office, and then there are the others.

  • Anonymous

    This is utterly pathetic! Washington was one of the great Presidents! How dare they forget!

  • Betsy Crowell

    I was shocked and disappointed to learn yesterday that the local government in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, will be open for “business as usual” on President’s Day; but there were all closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

    • Judge Clark

      Martin Luther King is simply part of black history. George Washington was the beginning of WHITE history. Guess who is considered the most honorable.

  • John

    George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have had their birthdays traded for Martin Luther King’s. An act of Congress to apease the black caucus,NAACP,and other race baiting organizatios.

  • ready for battle

    Blacks have been on well fair ever since there own sold them.. and it was there own people that sold them to the white people and they got good money for them..then when they got over here all there needs were meat.. all there bills were paid the same as they are now. there food was give to them. just as now. there babes were born free just as now.. the only difference was they did have to work some…that has been took OUT NOW!!!!!

  • Char

    I personaly would not take Kings birthday off when I was with a \the Senior patrol in Chula Vista, Ca. and then work on Presidents day. I took both off ( Kings because that was the one they chose to take off instead of the presidents. I have nothing against the blacks except they are a little too pushy and are blind to the fact that Obummer is only part black.

    • Richard William Faith

      Amazing! So now, it’s the BLACKS that are advocating the “one-drop rule”.

  • Richard William Faith

    Both of our major political parties share a common vested interest in marginalizing George Washington: he was NOT a member of ANY political party, and he is known to have had suspicions that political parties had the potential to highjack our republic. This “prophecy has been fulfilled in our hearing”, and even as it quakes the landscape like a sprinting Brontosaurus, it remains one of the most fervent hopes in the hearts (??) of party leaders to keep this under wraps.

  • Roy

    And somehow some fools still say obama is American. Amazing!

  • Mark

    Not that the name is important but James is wrong. I grew up in the seventies and it was Washington’s Birthday only. Then they added all presidents and started calling it Presidents day. Which in hindsight was wrong. Washington was the single most instrumental person to us becoming a nation and the pompous ass liberals are trying to scrub our history from sight. May they rot in hell.

  • The Enemy

    It’s another plank in the liberal platform of dumbing-down our nation. Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays are forgotten and all the government employees have another Monday holiday. Oh yeah, and they created yet another one, supposedly to “honor” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • CJM

    I don’t care what the Feds say about Feb 22; it is WASHINGTON’S birthday and Lincoln’s is on Feb 12. I do NOT honor that day in Jan for mlk….who was nothing more than a rabble rousing tick.

  • emerson

    MONDAY IS GEORGE WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY! TELL EVERYONE- OBUMMER WON’T ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

  • Linda Stewart

    Our children don’t even get out of school today and I doubt the day is being spent teaching them about Washington. Our great country is in dire need for a leader.

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