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Happy Washington’s Birthday or Presidents’ Day?

February 16, 2015 Events/Meetings, Featured, Transportation, Travel No Comments
The Lincoln IL Amtrak station, as seen from a Lincoln Service train in May 2012
The Lincoln IL Amtrak station, as seen from a Lincoln Service train in May 2012

So which is it: Presidents’ Day or Washington’s Birthday? What about Abraham Lincoln? The best answer I found online is from Snopes.com (recommended):

Claim:   The federal holiday observed in the United States on the third Monday of February is officially designated as “Presidents’ Day.”


Their post is long and detailed, but the following is a good summary:

President Nixon is frequently identified as the party responsible for changing Washington’s Birthday into President’s Day and fostering the notion that it is a day for commemorating all U.S. Presidents, a feat he supposedly achieved by issuing a proclamation on 21 February 1971 which declared the third Monday in February to be a “holiday set aside to honor all presidents, even myself.” This claim stems not from fact, however, but from a newspaper spoof. Actually, presidential records indicate that Nixon merely issued an Executive Order (11582) on 11 February 1971 defining the third Monday of February as a holiday, and the announcement of that Executive Order identified the day as “Washington’s Birthday.”

Executive Order (11582) makes no mention of the title’s of the holidays:

(a) Holiday means the first day of January, the third Monday of February, the last Monday of May, the fourth day of July, the first Monday of September, the second Monday of October, the fourth Monday of October, the fourth Thursday of November, the twenty-fifth day of December, or any other calendar day designated as a holiday by Federal statute or Executive order.

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is the 12th — my husband and I were on a Lincoln Service Amtrak train to Chicago on his birthday. Washington’s birthday s the 22nd — this coming Sunday.

— Steve Patterson


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