Presidents' Day: To Close or Not to Close?

The lack of observance for the federal holiday raises a question for schools and businesses.

As I write this Monday, Feb. 20, I have just wrapped up classes for the day at a local university. No problem -- it's mid-terms week and we have a day off for assessments Wednesday. I'm glad we had the day today to prep.

But I'm finding that a lot of other places are also remaining open for Presidents' Day, a federal holiday.

While the rest of my family is off for the day from work and school, we were all home together for the recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January. So why are so many more schools and businesses open for Presidents' Day?

I was browsing my Facebook news feed -- for educational purposes, of course -- and came across this status from a friend of mine, a fellow college student: 

"I go to Truman State University. A university named after a president. And I still have school today..."

Past the humor, it really got my thinking...

The holiday, officially still recognized as Washington's Birthday, was set in 1968 to land on a Monday and honor both Washington and President Lincoln's birthdays. According to an article on Time's website, the decision to merge the celebration into one day known as Presidents' Day was a highly marketable move.

For me, it's life as usual -- a typical Monday at school and work. But I am curious as to why our recognition of this particular holiday has faltered. I'm as much a fan of a day off as the next person, but beyond the chance to sleep in or have a mini-vacay, I'm not real sure where the observance of this holiday is going.

Our partial observance is almost as interesting as not observing the federal holiday at all. The selectivity involved makes a case for the ignorance of any federal holiday -- why is one federal holiday tangibly observed in the form of school and business closings moreso than another?

I have a great appreciation for our presidents, classic and modern. The task at hand is far greater than I could ever imagine tackling. Aside from a clear schedule or sales at the mall, the idea of the federal holiday is lacking personal and historic value any more. Granted, while observance is up to the individual, it's tougher to recognize a holiday for a reason when the opportunity is not granted. If a day off is what it takes, fine. 

I've always admired the ceremonies, parades and celebrations for MLK Day. It may be a unique sight in St. Louis to see churches, schools and other public forums host gatherings for the specific intent of honoring the Reverend, but also the cause he represented. The unspoken civil rights creed and the fight we no longer have to encounter is an immeasurably huge step. There was a day off to take note of history and reflect on the future.

And Presidents' Day? I don't remember doing anything specific for the date past elementary school. 

Just a thought. For now, Happy Presidents' Day -- whatever that means to you. I'm thankful for our country, our presidents for some reason or another across the board and the opportunities we have that they've fought for.

What does Presidents' Day look like to you?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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