Presidents Day is coming this month. It has been a time-honored event since George Washington died in 1799. The people of the country at that time were saddened by the passing of the general who led them to victory in the Revolutionary War and later answered the call to serve as the first president of the United States for eight years. They began to commemorate Washington on his birthday, February 22.
For years this continued until the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. While he was president, so many openly criticized him. In death, they memorialized him. He had a way of simply getting straight to the truth. He once wrote, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” He had the talent of being a negotiator who could bring people together to support a great cause. His belief that the country had to be held together was instrumental in the United States entering the industrial revolution and becoming one of the most powerful countries in the world. His birthday of February 12 was celebrated for years.
In 1971, President Nixon and Congress enacted a law to move federal holidays to Mondays so that workers would have a 3-day week-end. Therefore, the third Monday in February is the official holiday of Presidents Day. Instead of celebrating Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th and Washington’s on the 22, we celebrate them together. This year it is Monday, February 17.
As we celebrate the day this year, we need to remember the heavy burden each of the 45 presidents have had over the 231 years since the constitution was passed into law. For whoever is the President, we ask God to guide and give wisdom so that we live free and peaceful lives. We do not always have to agree with them, but God expects us to obey them and to pray for them, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”