Washington's Birthday recognizes leaders past, present

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kali L. Gradishar
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
George Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday celebrated the third Monday in February, taking place Feb. 15 this year. With the holiday comes a three-day weekend for some Sabers, Presidents' Day consumer sales in the U.S. and an overall curiosity of why the car dealer on the side of the road is dressed as Abraham Lincoln.

While his birthday is Feb. 11 in accordance with the Julian calendar, according to the Gregorian calendar we use today, George Washington was born Feb. 22.

The nation-wide celebration of his birthday began long before Congress ever declared it a holiday, according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Web site. In 1879, Congress added Washington's Birthday to the list of holidays to be observed by federal employees. Then in 1968, Congress passed a law that pushed the observance of certain holidays to Mondays.

The new ruling declared the celebration of Washington's Birthday to be held the third Monday in February.

Because this day falls between Washington's actual birthday and the birthday of former President Abraham Lincoln Feb. 12, this day is often referred to as Presidents' Day. The holiday is officially recognized as Washington's Birthday.

"Neither Congress nor the president has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington's Birthday be changed to 'President's Day,'" according to the NARA site.

Still, the day provides an opportunity for Americans in the U.S. and abroad to observe and appreciate the sacrifices and efforts the current and previous presidents have put forth for our nation.

Just as servicemembers voluntarily sacrifice their lives for the freedoms American civilians practice every day, stepping up to the challenge as the President of the United States is also a volunteer endeavor.

In my opinion, whether or not a person agrees with every policy that ever came forth from the White House, acknowledging and appreciating the person willing to step into that position is the least someone can do.

And Feb. 15 should provide just that - a day of appreciation for the person who fills those shoes.

Each place and every person has their own way of acknowledging the holiday. According to the NARA Web site, the Senate traditionally reads George Washington's Farewell Address. In U.S. Air Forces in Europe, many Airmen are allowed the day off.

No matter what form of recognition, observing the day with the respect and gratitude to which it is owed is what's important.