Is George Washington underappreciated?
That may be a strange question to pose in the city that bears the first president’s name, but Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) thinks the answer is yes.
Wolf introduced a bill in the House on Tuesday that would reestablish Washington’s actual birthday, Feb. 22, as a federal holiday. Forty years ago, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February, and over time it has become known as “Presidents Day” rather than a specific celebration of the preeminent founding father.
That needs to change, Wolf says.
“President Washington exemplifies the best that America and Americans have to offer the world,” the Virginia lawmaker said in a news release. “Today, however, his birthday has become simply a time for many to celebrate a three-day weekend. We need to change the focus from celebrating sales at the mall to celebrating the significance of Washington’s birth to the birth of our nation.”
Wolf also released a letter from James C. Rees, the president of the Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens in Virginia, backing up his proposal.
“Today many states, the media, advertisers and the general public have abandoned recognition of Washington’s Birthday and replaced it with a commercial ‘shopping holiday’ that leaves American history and patriotism by the side of the road,” Rees wrote. “The holiday was far more meaningful when it revolved around George Washington, and schools were able to focus on his sterling example of character and leadership.”