Way back when, George Washington had his own day.
It was Feb. 22, which was his birthday – sort of, anyway. More on that shortly.
But on that day, school kids everywhere remembered our first president and learned all about him.
Ten days earlier, on Feb. 12, which was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, students learned about the man who many historians believe was our greatest president.
Indeed, if you were going to honor two presidents, Washington and Lincoln might well be the choices.
With Valentine’s Day squeezed in between on Feb. 14, it was a busy, busy month.
Not so much anymore, even though Feb. 14 also was Ash Wednesday this year. But that won’t happen again anytime soon. The last time it occurred was 1945.
What won’t change anytime soon is the fact that Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays now have no more than garden-variety status when it comes to significant days of the calendar year. That’s because the hoopla about their birthdays has been replaced by that of Presidents Day, which was observed Monday, complete with a federal holiday designation, something that George’s and Honest Abe’s birthdays have never come close to getting.
Presidents Day is, as its name suggests, a day to honor all of the presidents in the history of our country.
If you were to apply the youth baseball and softball adage of, "Everyone plays two innings," to the office of the most powerful men in the world, Presidents Day would be the result. It combines the likes of Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, Franklin Pierce, James Polk and John Tyler with Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and the Roosevelts on a level playing field.
With all due respect to the men in the former group, and to the office of the presidency, that’s like equalizing Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell with the five worst players in pro basketball history. After all, those guys played in the NBA, too.
That’s not right. That’s not fair. And it’s not acceptable.
We can’t do anything about Lincoln. His birthday was nine days ago. But Washington’s is today. To make it right – to tip the playing field back in George’s favor, at least as much as it can be in this space on thesuburbanite.com – here are 10 interesting facts about Washington, according to mentalfloss.com:
- He didn’t have a middle name.
- His salary was 2 percent of the total U.S. budget, which, in relative terms, makes him the highest-paid president ever.
- Despite that, though, he somehow had cash flow problems and had to borrow money to attend his own first inauguration.
- His health was among the poorest of any president in history, as he suffered from a variety of ailments.
- He was a moral man but not a devout Christian.
- He wrote a lot of letters – a staggering total estimated to be between 18,000 and 20,000.
- Before fighting the British, he fought for the British, leading a colonial force against the French in what is now Ohio.
- He didn’t have wooden teeth, but he did battle extensive teeth problems, having just one tooth in his head at his first inauguration.
- Before he married Martha, he was in love with his best friend’s wife.
- And finally, he wasn’t born on Feb. 22. He was actually born on Feb. 11, 1731, but when the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, his birthday was moved 11 days. Since his birthday fell before the old date for New Year’s Day, but after the new date for New Year’s Day, his birth year was changed to 1732.