Rep. Wolf Pushes Presidents' Day Date Change
A Virginia congressman has reintroduced legislation that calls for Presidents’ Day to be celebrated on Feb. 22, the birthday of the Old Dominion’s most famous native son, George Washington.
Republican Rep. Frank Wolf -- who announced last year that he will retire in early 2015 after completing his 17th term in the House -- said in a statement that “few Americans remember the legacy of President Washington.”
“I believe Congress has unwittingly contributed to this lack of historical understanding by relegating Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February to take advantage of a three-day weekend,” Wolf asserted, adding that the focus of the holiday should be on the father of the country and not commercial interests.
Moving the national holiday to the third Monday became official in 1968 when President Johnson signed a bill that shifted the celebration of several other holidays as well.
Wolf -- whose district includes Winchester, where Washington spent much of his political and military career -- said that celebrating Washington’s birth on Feb. 22 was necessary “to honor his legacy” and improve historical literacy among American youth. Several historians, including David McCullough, have endorsed the proposal. Additionally, Washington’s Mount Vernon estate backs the legislation.
Wolf has long advocated for the change, though with little success. He introduced similar legislation in 2011 and 2012, but the initiative failed to gain widespread support. It’s unclear whether the latest iteration has any chance of passing.