Presidents’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February, as a result of the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act by Congress in 1968, which changed the federal holiday schedule beginning January 1, 1971. Prior to 1971, the holiday celebrated George Washington’s birthday on February 22.
In 1879, by an act of Congress, George Washington’s birthday was designated a federal holiday to honor the first president of the United States. Washington was also the general that led the Continental Army against the British in the American Revolutionary War to gain our independence. It was the first federal holiday to honor an American president, so it was celebrated on his actual birthday of February 22.
The idea of creating a Presidents’ Day to marginalize the tremendous accomplishments George Washington made in forming the United States began in 1951, with the formation of the “Presidents’ Day National Committee.” The stated purpose of the Committee was to honor the office of the presidency, not any specific president. Yet, President Calvin Coolidge acknowledged nearly a century ago: “Washington was the directing spirit without which there would have been no independence, no Union, no Constitution, and no Republic. . . . We cannot yet estimate him. We can only indicate our reverence for him and thank the Divine Providence which kept him to serve and inspire his fellow man.” He was certainly a better president than many of his successors. If they wanted to honor all the presidents, why take away Washington’s birthday and turn it into Presidents’ Day, when there were over 300 other dates to choose from? Did President’s Day have to be a federal holiday? Couldn’t it have just been a federal observance day, like Constitution Day, without federal employees getting a day off from work?
In 1968 when Congress was drafting the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an early version of the legislation would have honored both George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays by calling the holiday “Presidents’ Day”, since Lincoln’s birthday is February 12. Lincoln’s birthday was never a federal holiday, although some schools made it a holiday. This early draft of the legislation failed, so the legislation that passed was to honor all presidents.
In the mid-1980s, advertisers began using the term “Presidents’ Day.” Prior to that time, stores were closed on Washington’s birthday. However, a review of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record clearly shows that supporters of the bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.
Some of the other holidays that were moved to Mondays by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act were Memorial Day, originally commemorated on May 30 to honor the men and women that died while serving in the armed forces in defense of the United States; Columbus Day, originally celebrated on October 12 to honor the founding of America on October 12, 1492 by Christopher Columbus; and Veterans Day, originally commemorated on November 11, to honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces. The holiday was originally called Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, when major hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed the commemoration date to the fourth Monday in October. In 1978, Congress passed legislation moving the commemoration date back to November 11. In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day.
Was corporate America’s bottom line the only reason for turning Washington’s birthday (honoring a Founding Father), Memorial Day (honoring armed services members that died in service to this country), Columbus Day (honoring the man that discovered America), and Veterans Day (honoring men and women that have served in the armed services) into national shopping days? Could there be an entirely different reason?
In 1958, seven years after a Committee was formed to minimize George Washington’s achievements as a Founding Father, Cleon Skousen, a former FBI agent, police chief, and university professor, wrote a book, The Naked Communist, based on his knowledge of Communist writings, and of their activities, through FBI informants. That book contained a list of 45 Communist goals for their plan for America to slide into Socialism as part of the Communist strategy to take over the world. On January 10, 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr., of Florida, read the list of these Communist goals into the Congressional Record.
One of the goals, Goal No. 30, states, “Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.” Has that happened in the years since the book was written?
Nowadays, the U.S. military teaches that the Founding Fathers were the first terrorists in this country! In 2001, a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) instructor was filmed teaching police and fire fighters that the Founding Fathers were terrorists. They also teach that George Washington, who was unanimously elected Commander-in-Chief of the initial army of the United States, the Continental Army, and commanded the Army throughout the American Revolutionary War, from 1775 – 1783, would not be welcome in today’s Army!
Were the Founding Fathers “selfish aristocrats”? This is what they said when they signed the Declaration of Independence:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
The Declaration of Independence was an explanation of why the Continental Congress had voted for independence from Great Britain, and listed the grievances of the colonies against their ruler, King George III. This resulted in seven more years of fighting the American Revolutionary War (they had already fought for one year). Does this sound like something “selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the ‘common man'” would do?
In a January 2013, Air Force “student guide” distributed by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, entitled “Extremism,” it describes the American colonists who sought independence from British rule as a historical example of extremism. “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples,” according to the training guide.
In February 2016, the city of San Diego issued a “Visual and Correspondence Style Guidelines” manual to employees advising them they could no longer use the term “Founding Fathers” because of the gender bias implication. A legal organization offered free assistance to any employee reprimanded for mentioning any of the Founding Fathers.
The San Diego mayor was not aware of the Founding Fathers reference in the manual. When he became aware of it, he ordered that the manual immediately be removed from city use and that the Founding Fathers section be removed from the manual. He also ordered that the rest of the manual be reviewed for other similar “misguided examples that defy common sense.”
Source Materials —
James C. Bowers, The Naked Truth — The Named Communist – Revisited (Schwarz Report Press, 2011)