Sorting Out Presidents Day - NECN

Sorting Out Presidents Day



    Washington and Lincoln, for sure, but how about a little love for all the other chief executives? (Published Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014)

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Quincy, Mass.) – Presidents Day used to be a celebration of Lincoln's birthday on February 12 and Washington's on February 22.

    Now it's the combination of the two on the third Monday of February.

    But is that how it should be?

    Presidents Day means no mail, no banks, no school, all because of a celebration of the birthdays and lives of at least 2 of America's 44 - you see them nearly every day.

    "George Washington," said Rick Barron, a student at George Washington University.
    "Lincoln," said Keith Housman, who works in Quincy, Mass.

    But on this Presidents Day, we wanted to find out why none of the other distinguished men get their due.

    "I'd say all Presidents deserve recognition. I don't know Nixon's maybe a little iffy," Housman said.

    Among the slighted, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, commanders-in-chief all, statesmen in times of war and peace.

    "When people think of Presidents Day, there's really two people they're going to think of," said Boston University presidential scholar Tom Whalen.

    He thinks a way to change this around, is by changing when we celebrate Presidents Day.

    "It would be a good idea if we moved it up to November, Election Day and have it a national holiday. I think that would be the ultimate celebration of the institution of the presidency," said Whalen.

    But do people think about the meaning of the day?

    "I don't really pay much attention to it, the thing I associate the most with Presidents Day are car sale commercials, to be perfectly honest with you," Barron said.

    The City of Presidents, Quincy, Massachusetts, is famous for presidential father and son, number 2 John Adams and number 6, John Quincy Adams.

    And there's some local pride on Presidents Day.

    "Nowadays you say the Addams family and the first thing people think of is (snaps fingers). And there's no respect for the family that once was 1/3 of all of our presidents," said Quincy attorney Tom Severo.

    But if Presidents Day becomes about more than two men who led this country, Professor Whalen says this city might not be the best example.

    "The Adams's as presidents were disasters, John Adams the alien and sedition acts, that was kind of a bold power grab. John Quincy Adams by his own admission, didn't do anything and he was more or less a joke as chief executive," Whalen said.

    "I don't know, I don't see anyone else with two presidents, so they're cool in my book," said Quincy native Eric O'Brien.

    Prof. Whalen says if Presidents Day were on Election Day, more people would be off and more would go to the polls to vote.