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Presidents' Day 2013: Actually, there’s no such thing

We don't care what that newspaper ad says, there's no official 'Presidents' Day' holiday. By law, it's 'George Washington’s Birthday' honoring the Father of Our Country, and only him.

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But this got us thinking. As OPM notes above, the states can do what they want. Illinois recognizes Lincoln’s Birthday as a separate state holiday, for instance. This year they celebrated it on Feb. 12.

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Are there any other presidents – besides Abe and George – who have special state days unnoticed by the nation at large?

Yes there are! In Texas, Aug. 27 is recognized as Lyndon Baines Johnson day. That’s the date of LBJ’s actual birthday. State agencies aren’t completely closed that day, but only skeleton crews are required. (Everybody else is home trying to make it through Robert Caro’s Alamo-sized LBJ bio, perhaps.)

And in Missouri, May 8 is set aside as Truman Day, honoring the feisty former haberdasher from Independence on his birthday.

A few years ago there was a move in Missouri to stop the practice of giving state offices Truman Day off. It cost too much money, supporters of the prospective change said. But Harry’s supporters rallied and it’s still a state holiday. There’s probably a “buck stops here” joke in that somewhere – feel free to find it.

Anyway, we feel this is a challenge to other states to match Texas and Missouri in honoring their own. For instance, seven presidents were born in Ohio. Sure, they weren’t exactly the Founding Fathers – William McKinley was maybe the best of the bunch – but that’s still quite a numerical accomplishment. Shouldn’t the Buckeye State recognize that in some day-off way?

New York’s had lots of presidents, so ditto. Vermont had one, Calvin Coolidge, but shouldn’t the flinty New Englander get more of his due? And California, big as it is, has had but one native-born chief executive. Should they make more of a deal about that?

No, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan, he’s from Illinois. It was Richard Nixon. So maybe that would be a bit, um, problematic.


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