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A congressman from Virginia thinks President George Washington’s getting shortchanged with his birthday grouped into the Presidents Day holiday.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced legislation Tuesday to bring back the federal holiday recognizing Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22. The evolution of Presidents Day discounts Washington’s role in American history, Wolf said. He’s concerned that students today lack knowledge of the birth of the nation.
“President Washington exemplifies the best that America and Americans have to offer the world,” he said in a statement released Tuesday. “Today, however, his birthday has become simply a time for many to celebrate a three-day weekend. We need to change the focus from celebrating sales at the mall to celebrating the significance of Washington’s birth to the birth of our nation.”
Washington’s birthday became a holiday for federal workers in D.C. in 1880 and for all federal workers in 1885. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved the federal Washington’s Birthday holiday to the third Monday of February. Language to rename the holiday Presidents Day and combine it with President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12 did not make it into the final version of the act, but with the holiday falling between the birthdays, it has become popularly known as Presidents Day.
So Wolf wants Washington’s Birthday back on Feb. 22.
“Washington’s Birthday should be officially celebrated on February 22 and be a day set aside in reverence to a man known as the father of our country,” Wolf said. “Only then can we once again focus on his unique contributions to our country.”
Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate endorsed the legislation, echoing Wolf’s concern that the commercializing the holiday has left “American history and patriotism by the side of the road.”