Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blind Horse Presidents Day

By Julie Rahm

Presidents Day started in 1880 as a holiday for the federal government offices located in the District of Columbia. Originally, the holiday was intended to observe Washington’s Birthday. For ninety years, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, the 22nd of February. But in 1971, Congress enacted The Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Public Law 90-363) and moved the observance of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February. The law confused things by moving Washington's "birthday" to the week of February 15th to the 21st. Now, the holiday occurs between Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. Popular, but unofficial references have given rise to the title “Presidents Day”, which recognizes both Presidents. In short, the holiday was never intended for Lincoln.

Surprisingly, Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th of February was never a federal holiday. However, some state governments have officially renamed their observance of Presidents Day, “Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. In Massachusetts, the state officially celebrates "Washington's Birthday" on the same day as the federal holiday. State law also directs the governor to issue an annual "Presidents Day" proclamation on May 29th honoring the presidents with Massachusetts roots: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy. Alabama uniquely observes the day as "Washington and Jefferson Day", even though Thomas Jefferson's birthday is in April. In Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, while Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday is still a state holiday falling on February 12th regardless of the day of the week. In Washington's home state of Virginia, the holiday is legally known as "George Washington Day”. Now you know!

All this misunderstanding and confusion about Presidents Day reminds me of my husband John’s favorite quote. John says, “Don’t worry about the horse being blind. Just load the wagon.” He attributes the quote to John Madden, the great football coach and sportscaster. Coach Madden recited the saying during his pregame locker room pep talks. Some of the players never understood the saying. But, it inspired them none-the-less. I also don’t completely understand the blind horse and wagon concept. I surmise the quote instructs us not to think about things too much. But, I also think not understanding the quote is part of its lesson.

And, so it is with the upcoming Presidents Day holiday. Don’t worry about the horse being blind. Our role in the holiday is just to load the wagon. Observe Presidents Day as you desire. Take a moment to remember your favorite president. Why is he your favorite? What did he do to make our nation the land of opportunity for all? Similar to your life, the holiday can be as you desire. And, if you are not living the life you want, visit my web site at At the web site you can find inspiration, follow my blog and comment on my columns. Enjoy your holiday and watch out for the loaded wagon. The horse may be blind!

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