February 18th is more than a day off
February is a month filled with snow and early sunsets, but that does not mean that it is without holidays. Valentine’s Day often steals the spotlight, and students tend to forget that this day of romance is not the reason that many people have a long weekend in the middle of February.
One of the ten federal holidays observed by the United States government, Presidents’ Day, has its roots in the 1880s. This was when Americans first celebrated the birthday of the nation’s first president, George Washington. Known as Washington’s Birthday, the holiday was celebrated on February 22 annually.
It remained an informal day of remembrance until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill. This bill assured that several federal holidays would be celebrated on Mondays, and Washington’s Birthday was no exception. Due to its close proximity to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, Washington’s Birthday became ‘Presidents’ Day.’ People from all across America celebrate Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.
“I think it is really important to reflect on our previous presidents. Whether we have liked them or not, they have all impacted our history tremendously and we should understand that the president will continue to impact us for years to come,” said Namrutha Kanakavelan, senior class president at Freedom High School.
The holiday is not exclusively intended to appreciate the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Of the 44 men who have served as President of the United States, some have certainly been more effective leaders than others. But students remember each and every one of these men on Presidents’ Day, especially the outstanding ones.
“I think President Franklin D. Roosevelt did an amazing job of leading our country. He was able to make critical decisions that helped us prevail during the war,” said Kanakavelan.
It is essential that high school students understand presidential policies, as many of them will be voting in the 2020 election. For some students, involvement in a political system begins at a young age.
“[As senior class president] I have put in hours of work before, during, and after the regular school day to plan things for our class and school. Both [class and student government] presidents must also be able to take criticism well because it is apparent that not everyone will like our choices and us as people. But either way, we must do things in order to make the greater majority happy, and make things a little more enjoyable for them,” said Kanakavelan.
Regardless of how someone feels about America’s current political scene, they can take a few minutes on February 18th to reflect on the accomplishment of our nation’s great leaders.