President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday as it is officially known is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in the month of February. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.
Originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in Washington the holiday was expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices.
As the first federal holiday to honor an American President, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This date places it between February 15 and 21, which makes the name “Washington’s Birthday” in some sense a misnomer, since it never occurs on Washington’s actual birthday.
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The holiday is also a tribute to the general who created the first military badge of merit for the common soldier. Revived on Washington’s 200th birthday in 1932, the Purple Heart medal (which bears Washington’s image) is awarded to soldiers who are injured in battle. As with Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Washington’s Birthday offers another opportunity to honor the country’s veterans. This is a great opportunity to encourage your employees to volunteer with a local Veterans service. Below are a few links to help you find ways you and your staff can volunteer this Presidents’ Day.