Monday, February 19, 2007

President('s)(s'(s) Day

I have long been confused about this annual Monday Holiday. I grew up getting a free day on Washington's birthday, but some time after my final school years, Washington's birthday had morphed into President's Day, and always on a Monday.

But which President? Since Washington still had his special Day when government offices were closed on February 22, whether Monday or not, which President was being honored by America's retailers and vacationers on February's only three-day weekend? Surely not Lincoln, whose birthday comes much earlier in the month; or William Henry Harrison's which comes even earlier in the month. Not to mention Ronald Reagan who was not even elected yet, much less dead and honorable.

The question was hardly cleared up by different retail advertisers headlining "PRESIDENT'S DAY SALE" ads. alongside "PRESIDENTS' DAY SALE" and "PRESIDENTS DAY (no apostrophe at all) SALE" proclamations. But finally, Hendrik Hertzberg, courtesy of The New Yorker has set me straight. There is no legal holiday designated as President('s)(s')(s) Day. Washington's Birthday has simply been co-opted by our retail establishment and given a nickname that induces more Americans to rush out to our stores and entertainment complexes than our first President was able to entice. I may not feel greatly enlightened by this new knowledge, but at least I no longer feel like an historical dunce every February.

Poor George; relegated to the dustbin of fallen logos. The U.S. Mint is even planning to retire the dollar bill and replacing it with a small coin bearing the entire array of presidential images. A tune pops into my head, "I've got Presidents who jingle jangle jingle as I go, rattling merrily along."

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