What Are We Really Celebrating on Presidents Day Anyway?
Today is Presidents Day, a time in which we… well, we… something to do with presidents.
You know, come to think of it, I don’t think we’re quite clear on what exactly we’re meant to celebrate on Presidents Day. Officially speaking, Presidents Day is known as “Washington’s Birthday,” except for the fact that George Washington’s real birthday is February 22nd, and we decided to pick a day that just happened to place near the birthdays of the Father of Our Country and the Great Emancipator.
But that still begs the question: what is it we’re celebrating anyway?
Are we celebrating just Washington and Lincoln? Is it for every president? Or just the good ones? Like, for example, on Presidents Day we would celebrate the achievements of Washington and Lincoln but no one in God’s name would touch, say, Buchanan. And does the current president count? I don’t think so. You can’t really reflect on someone who’s currently doing the job.
I can tell you right now, there’s no way anyone’s celebrating William Henry Harrison, the man who was president for exactly thirty days because he didn’t wear a coat when it was cold out. Now, I’m not saying this was Darwinian providence, but, I mean, if you’re the President of the United States and don’t understand that you’re supposed to wrap up warm in wintertime, you probably shouldn’t be president for that long anyway.
But I digress.
What is it we’re really celebrating? It’s not an “I love America” holiday, that’s what the 4th of July is for. Just saying “we’re celebrating the presidents” isn’t enough. What about them? On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we honor a specific man for a specific thing, a wonderful thing he did to better the country. Veterans Day and Memorial Day are all about honoring the thousands of men and women who dedicated their lives and their honor to the safety of the nation.
Presidents Day is all about looking at the accomplishments of 42 dudes and going “Yeah, some of them were all right, I guess.”