by Simon Bainbridge
My wife still finds it amusing that sixteen years after immigrating to the United States, barring Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have absolutely zero ability to recall in which months our national holidays lay. And while in some ways while I do feel a little guilty for not making the effort to commit such important dates to memory, dull ignorance paves it way to unearned dividends year after year in the form of surprise days-off, and that’s just fine by me!
Notwithstanding my historic obliviousness there actually is one national holiday I do remember, and quietly cherish. Washington’s Birthday.
Now before many of you dismiss my best foreign attempts to get into the U.S. spirit of things by saying, “don’t you mean President’s Day?” – Actually no, the official federal holiday on the third Monday each February (as enacted for all Washington D.C. offices by congress in 1879 and then expanded to all federal offices nationally in 1885) was initially implemented only to celebrate the birthday of George Washington. Not until the subsequent revision of 1885 was the holiday designed to recognize and remember all presidents. The general expansion of the holiday’s name to President’s Day is a reflection that this day now doubles as a state holiday in nearly all states.
I enjoy President’s day especially because while it was designed to recognize the efforts and achievements of a single person holding a single office, to me, the underlying sentiment of this holiday is a true celebration of leadership, and that - in my opinion, is a virtue.
Many people around the world may argue that the American presidency is demonstrative of power and absolution, and one would be foolish to not recognize the sheer authority of the office. But I also believe the seal of our president is synonymous with absolute resolve, unfadable integrity, and the summited achievement of servant leadership. And those ideals are something that I think we all, as Terry Scholars, can both be thankful for and appreciate.
So next time you see or hear that President’s Day is coming around, I encourage you to not do as most do (myself included) and think, “Awesome TV sales!” Instead, I urge you to pause for a moment and remember that the third Monday of the shortest month is beset with an opportunity to recognize outstanding contributions, by outstanding people, to an outstanding nation.