Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday that’s celebrated on the third Monday of February to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States. Despite its status as a federal holiday, individual states are free to name the holiday as they see fit and to decide whether they will observe it as a public holiday or not. Federal employees as well as state employees get the day off along with public schools. Thirteen states – Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin- do not observe the holiday.

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 on a tobacco plantation in Virginia where he worked as a surveyor and later as a major in the militia. After serving in the French and Indian War, Washington returned home to Mount Vernon where he became a successful planter. In 1775, he was selected to be commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American War for Independence. In 1787 he helped write the Constitution and soon thereafter became our first president, serving two consecutive terms in office.

Washington’s birthday didn’t become a national holiday until the late 1870’s when President Hayes signed it into law. In the 1960’s Congress began to consider changing the title to Presidents’ Day in order to establish a three-day weekend that would be celebrated at the same time each year. In 1971, President Nixon signed this into effect and today we use this day to recognize the lives and achievements of all our nation’s presidents.

Written by: Kelly Stewart