Picture of students using computers in the library

Seeing Presidents’ Day in the Sand Shark Way

February 23, 2014

President’s Day, Presidents Day, or Presidents’ Day? Throughout the year we are swept by the seasons that life has emitted into the accompanying day to day recognition of what is, what has been, and what will come. Yet propelled into this motion of day to day – we so often miss the opportunity to ask a contemplative thought, or even seek answers to a split second inquiry that has “finally surfaced”-- as we succumb to the fast pace movement of our lives. And so we forget: along with the random acronyms on bummer stickers we see, along with the strange sounding bird we repeatedly hear each night in our neighborhood, along with the vexingly familiar looking actor we saw in that film…we forget to take our moment to ask that contemplative thought of “what does that mean?”, “what bird is that?”, or “who is that actor?”…. furthermore we forget to seek an answer to those split second inquiries, and so too we may have done the same with Presidents’ Day.

If there has been one thing I have learned as a student of the University of South Carolina Beaufort, it’s been to cherish the contemplative thoughts and to seek the awaiting answers. Learning is continuous, never ending, and absurdly rich in life all around us, and it is always a thing to be had... yet I have watched the inquiries of my life be silenced by the hustle and bustle of the surrounding ever-present world into a remote corner of my mind where they became tired and forgotten, yet magnificently I have also watched them be reawakened and answered in my USCB classes which each call for critical, creative, and cavernous thinking. Landing on February 17th, I recalled my calendar noted this third Monday in February as Presidents’ Day and my mind preceded to spin with critical, creative, cavernous thinking: Why? Why is this day Presidents’ Day? When did that start and how? Is it “President’s Day” honoring one president, “Presidents Day” honoring all presidents, or “Presidents’ Day” honoring a specific select presidents? ...

“Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington…"

((“Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration.”

“While Washington’s Birthday was an unofficial observance for most of the 1800s, it was not until the late 1870s that it became a federal holiday. Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose the measure, and in 1879 President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. The holiday initially only applied to the District of Columbia, but in 1885 it was expanded to the whole country. At the time, Washington’s Birthday joined four other nationally recognized federal bank holidays—Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day and Thanksgiving—and was the first to celebrate the life of an individual American. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, signed into law in 1983, would be the second.”))

"Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.”

((“Uniform Monday Holiday Act was an act designed to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers, and it was believed that ensuring holidays always fell on the same weekday would reduce employee absenteeism. While some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill also had widespread support from both the private sector and labor unions and was seen as a surefire way to bolster retail sales. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in places like Illinois, and many supported joining the two days as a way of giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen.”

Columbus Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans’ Day were also moved from their traditionally designated dates due to Uniform Monday Holiday Act --“however as a result of widespread criticism, in 1980 Veterans’ Day was returned to its original November 11 date.”

In “the mid-1980s Washington’s Birthday was known to many Americans as Presidents’ Day. This shift had solidified in the early 2000s, by which time as many as half the 50 states had changed the holiday’s name to Presidents’ Day on their calendars.Yet the originally established 1885 recognition of President George Washington, is still officially called ‘Washington’s Birthday’ by the federal government.))

“While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.” - Presidents' Day History 

It is amazing to see the course history takes: instilling hopes for remembrance, igniting desires for changes that will create beneficial and worthwhile outcomes, and still-preserving what was and seeking places to be valued as reminders and inspiration providers. Never had I investigated Presidents’ Day, until I began to question what history got us here to these points? To the point of having this day all the way to the point of so many of us not knowing why we do.

It is a gift from USCB. There is a perseverance in learning re-established at the university: fueling our minds to always be aware, receptive, and seeking, reminding us that we learn from our past and those of others, we learn from our hopes and desires and what and who inspires us, and we learn from investigating our world. We learn in perseverance itself and in the history we, ourselves are making with each high pace day of our lives:

“Failed in business at age 31.

Was defeated in a legislative race at age 32.

Failed in business again at age 34.

Overcame the death of his sweetheart at age 35.

Had a nervous breakdown at age 36.

Lost an election at age 38.

Lost a congressional race at age 43.

Lost a congressional race at age 48.

Lost a senatorial race at age 55.

Failed in an effort to become vice president at age 56.

Lost a senatorial race at age 58.

Was elected president of the United States at age 60.”

No Such Thing as Failure:   Abraham Lincoln.

Yours Truly: Sand Shark Patriotically Pondering,

                                                                         Erin Dailey

!!! Here is a chuckle for you: