Presidents Day – A Celebration of America’s History

6 02 2011

Let’s face it – for most kids, Presidents Day is simply an excuse not to go to school. However, this national holiday was intended to be far more than a day for relaxation. For all our students who are looking forward to the day off, here’s a little info about the reason why school is canceled.

History of the Holiday
Originally celebrated as Washington’s Birthday, Presidents Day was instituted in honor of our nation’s first President in 1880 by an act of the United States Congress. Since then, the holiday has been celebrated every February, on the third Monday of the month. Until the 1980s most businesses were closed, as were the schools, so that Americans could suspend business in honor of our country’s Presidential heroes.

Notable Contributions
While every American President made significant contributions to the success of our nation, there have been a number of particularly notable ones throughout history. Just to name a few…

  • George Washington – Led America to victory and national freedom in the Revolutionary War
  • Thomas Jefferson – Wrote the Declaration of Independence and the greater part of the Constitution
  • James Madison – Signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812
  • John Quincy Adams – Both the Erie Canal and the first passenger/freight railroad were completed during his Presidency
  • Andrew Jackson – The US was briefly debt-free for the only time in our nation’s history during his presidency
  • Abraham Lincoln – Ended the Civil War and Emancipated slaves
  • Ulysses S. Grant – Successful Civil War general
  • Theodore Roosevelt – The youngest President, taking office at age 42
  • Franklin Roosevelt – Kept Americans’ hopes alive during WWII
  • Harry Truman – Ended WWII
  • John F. Kennedy – The only President to win a Pulitzer Prize
  • Lyndon B. Johnson – Signed the Civil Rights Act
  • Ronald Reagan – Introduced “Reaganomics” to deregulate the economy, reduce government spending, and lower taxes
  • Barack Obama – America’s first black President

I admit it – I’m a Patriot, through and through. I’m proud to be an American and grateful for the rich heritage that our nation was built upon. But even I have fallen into the bad habit of seeing Presidents Day merely as a day for relaxation. This year, let’s try to do better – just take a moment on February 21st to remind our children that we enjoy freedom because others have gone before us and fought for it. Let’s let Presidents Day remain a celebration of America’s proud history.

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