Originally, it was George Washington’s Birthday, honoring the Father of Our Country. Then Abraham Lincoln, another great American, was thrown in.
Once the holiday was moved to Monday, to give federal workers a three-day weekend, Presidents’ Day became completely unmoored from the date of Washington’s birthday. Now we use the day to celebrate ALL presidents.
We have had some good ones, but not that many. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, were from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but they were both iconic presidents who had a big impact on American history. Then there were notable chief executives–Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower–whose legacy is significant, though sometimes still controversial. (As for Donald Trump, for all the furor of his first few weeks, his presidency is just getting started.)
But here is my question: Why do we have a federal day-off holiday to honor the Executive Branch? If we are going to do that, why don’t we have a holiday to honor the Legislative Branch? And the Judicial Branch? If the prospect of the latter two seems ridiculous, why isn’t it also ridiculous to have a Presidents’ Day?
I suppose it’s because that office is held by an identifiable individual, unlike our other branches of government. Perhaps it has something to do with an atavistic reverence for Kings. But I’m not sure this is healthy in a democratic republic.
But I suspect I’m missing something. Can someone explain the true meaning of Presidents’ Day and why we need that to be a national holiday?
And yet, this is our national holiday, so let’s observe it in the best way possible. What thoughts should it call to mind? What should we be thankful for? What should we do to keep the holiday?
UPDATE: My suggestion after the jump.