NEW CASTLE, Penn., Feb. 15, 2016 — Presidents Day is a national holiday that lacks a purpose for most Americans. Many Americans know it exists only because it is a day off work. Schools at least bother to endow the American populous with a basic recognition that Presidents Day is a holiday intended to commemorate the birthdays and legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Outside of extending the Valentine’s Day weekend, which allows businesses to further capitalize on holiday spending, Presidents Day would go unnoticed. Clearly, Americans have not fallen in love with Presidents Day as they have with the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.
Like the bulk of national holidays, Presidents Day fails to offer cause for celebration, so it serves as little more than a welcome day off. In the other words, Americans do not see the significance of Presidents Day on personal level.
Just as the country faced division and great uncertainty during the time of Abraham Lincoln, Americans now struggle to see a brighter future for the United States. In this current age of political bickering, it is particularly difficult to see the constructive impact political leaders have on the nation. Instead of problem solvers, the President and other political leaders are seen as problem makers, which undermines the importance of a holiday called Presidents Day.
Because Abraham Lincoln was to able overcome the Civil War and set the nation on the path to eventual restoration, however, Americans are able to fondly look back on his contributions and see him as one of the greatest leaders in US history. History may judge current leaders favorably, if their legacy blooms into a brighter future, but Americans see little reason to be grateful for their service today.
That said, Presidents Day was intended to highlight the contributions of great leaders from the past. In troubled times. However, even this can be difficult. In order to appreciate those contributions, the American people need to feel as though they are beneficiaries of Washington and Lincoln’s legacy.
Just as Thanksgiving incorporates family in the National Holiday to make it relevant for today, Presidents Day must do something similar. If Presidents Day is to have purpose in the America of today, it must be true to the contribution and legacy of past leaders.
George Washington was a man who achieved many things. Unlike many great leaders throughout history, he solidified his legacy by giving up power at the end of Presidency. The kind of man Washington was is, therefore, just as important as what he did.
Upon leaving office, Washington retired at his home in Mount Vernon where he was often visited by strangers of all stripes seeking to pay the great man homage. Washington entertained a steady stream of guests at his own expense.
Although a tough and demanding General, Washington was an extremely cordial, selfless man who served others. Even on his death bed, Washington took notice of a slave named Christopher Sheels. Tired from standing all day next to the dying man’s side, Washington motioned for the slave to sit.
In many ways, George Washington was a servant of others, which is an example all public officials should follow. Not only did he show concern for the well-being of others, treated others as he expected to treated, and respected the views of others, he fought for others.
If Presidents Day is truly about honoring the legacies of great men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it should be a day for public officials and other political leaders to foster civil engagement as Washington had done. Instead of celebration with colleagues, friends, and family in official ceremonies, political leaders should take the opportunity of Presidents Day to unite all members of their communities and listen to their interests.
Where Thanksgiving Day and the Fourth of July are celebrated with community feasts, Presidents Day should be as well. With the billions of dollars spend on politics in the US every year, political figures can find ways to sponsor Presidents Day events where they share community meals and discussions with all different people in their communities.