Monday is February’s third Monday. It’s also Presidents Day! Originally established in 1885, the holiday first recognized the Father of Our Nation, our first (and greatest) president, George Washington. Mrs. Washington’s favorite son was actually born on Feb. 22, but for the sake of a much-needed three-day weekend, a Monday is much better time to celebrate.
The federal government still officially refers to the holiday as “Washington’s Birthday,” but then they also refer to our taxes as contributions, so what do they know? The holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day in 1971 after it was moved as part of Public law 90-363, otherwise known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The purpose of the act was to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers who “contribute” trillions to our government’s coffers. It is undeniably the greatest piece of legislation ever passed by our august representatives.
Ironically, the holiday was never intended to honor President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12. But because federal observance of Washington’s birthday falls within the week of Feb, 15-21, and that week always falls between Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday, people started wrapping both celebrations into one, called it, “Presidents Day” and quietly forgot about the loss of another three-day weekend. While 12 states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of George and Abe separately, Presidents Day is now generally viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents (even the bad ones like Harding and Buchanan) past and present.
While no one is ever truly prepared to serve as president, many of our chief executives have had interesting experiences that surely influenced their path to and time in the White House. Some examples:
- Earlier in his life, Washington applied for a commission in the British Army. Fortunately for us, he was turned down.
- James Madison was a mere 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighed barely 130 pounds soaking wet, but no one rode taller in the saddle during the War of 1812 when the British burned Washington, D.C. For four grueling days, Madison was horseback almost non-stop, seeing to the health and care of the city and its inhabitants.
- Our fifth president, James Monroe was universally liked and had a city in Africa named after him, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
- For sheer audacity and shock value, none beat Andrew Jackson. As a 12-year-old, Old Hickory intentionally spit on the boots of a British officer and bore a saber scar on his face for the rest of his life. Jackson even taught his pet parrot to swear. The bird had to be removed from his funeral because of excessive vulgarity.
- When it comes to social faux-pas, George H.W. Bush set the bar sky-high at a banquet sponsored by the Japanese Prime Minister. Feeling under the weather, Bush vomited into the PM’s lap — on camera. In Japan, the term “bushu-suru” means “to do the Bush thing.”
One thing that all our presidents would agree on is the opportunity to improve oneself through hard work and education. That’s why this Monday, in honor of all those men who have had to make the tough decisions, you can take advantage of our Presidents Day Sale.
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About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin does not have a saber scar, but he would definitely spit on your boots if he deemed you not worthy of his respect.