Presidents Day celebrates the memory of two of the most revered presidents of the United States: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both presidents were born in February, and for many years, the country observed holidays for both their birthdays: Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and George Washington on February 22.
George Washington became the first president of the United States in 1789 after having led our continental army in the successful defeat of the British and enabling our thirteen original colonies to form a new country. He was unanimously elected to two terms of office as president but declined to run for a third term, setting an important precedent for future leaders of the US. His birthday was recognized as a Federal holiday from 1879 until 1971 when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved the Federal holiday to the third Monday of the month. This year Presidents Day will be on February 20.
Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 at a time when the United States was experiencing great turmoil over the issue of slavery. Lincoln led the country through the horrific civil war that ensued with the dual goals of bringing the divided states back into one unified country and of abolishing slavery. He was a skilled orator, the Gettysburg Address dedicating the Pennsylvania cemetery for civil war soldiers being his most famous speech. Most states have honored his memory by making his birthday a state holiday.
Presidents Day remains a Federal holiday honoring George Washington, but most states have made the day a holiday as well, and recognize both Washington and Lincoln on that day. We honor the memory of these two outstanding men who served our country with great integrity and moral courage.