Presidents Day – most people think of this day as one where kids get out of school; it’s a holiday for many where banks and government agencies are closed.
But what is Presidents Day really about? It is officially designated as George Washington’s birthday, celebrated the third Monday of February. Many associate it with his birthday as well as Abraham Lincoln, as his birthday is also in February.
“The origin of Presidents Day lies in the 1880s, when the birthday of Washington – Commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States – was first celebrated as a federal holiday,” according to Brittanica Encyclopedia. “In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill, which moved a number of federal holidays to Mondays. The change was designed to schedule certain holidays so that workers had a number of long weekends throughout the year; but it has been opposed by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they actually commemorate.”
It goes on to say Washington’s birthday was to be renamed Presidents Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln. The bill went into effect in 1971.
In Minden, many citizens had the pleasure of meeting two U.S. presidents, one as the former governor of California, the other after his presidency.
Lyndon B. Johnson helped First Baptist Church in Minden celebrate its 125th anniversary in 1969. According to Press-Herald archives, the former president and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, spent time with the church membership and congratulated the congregation on its anniversary.
“Following the services, the former president and his wife were greeted by a crowd in excess of a thousand and both went out and shook hands with many in the waiting group,” the reporter writes. “Hands reached out from all directions to touch the couple and they replied with smiles and best wishes to the Mindenites.”
Lady Bird was given high compliments by Jo Ann Eaton, saying, “Her friendliness and courteousness soon put the congregation at ease. Mrs. Johnson was a true compliment to her giant of a husband.”
In 1977, former California Governor Ronald Reagan was the guest speaker for the Chamber of Commerce Banquet. Press-Herald archives indicate Reagan fell short of his presidential bid in 1976, losing to President Gerald Ford.
In the 1980s, Reagan would go on to not only win the Republican nomination, but would lead the United States for eight years as its commander-in-chief.
The article published in February 1977 tells his life story and his accomplishments up to that point. During his speech to approximately 700 people at the banquet, he was reported as blasting “too much bureaucracy,” saying the
people were “covered by a network of regulations.”
“We can fight back against unwanted government harassment and regulations,” he is reported as saying. “Why don’t more
businesses challenge the arrogance of government officials?”
In closing, he is quoted, “All of us together can be a collective voice, and we can be heard by the government.”
Presidents Day is usually marked by public ceremonies in Washington, DC and throughout the country.