A look back in history

By | Travel
National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Credit@wikimedia

President’s Day honours the birthdays of America’s most famous leaders, this year that day falls on February 16th. Many museums all over the U.S. take pride in celebrating George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with complementary admission, themed tours and events designed to look back into the past and perhaps even contemplate their contribution to American history.

The third Monday of February every year is known to be President’s day ever since 1880 when Congress voted to make this the first national holiday. As February was a common month for important president’s birthdays, it was an ideal time to celebrate with a federal holiday. In 1968, the Uniform Monday Bill was enacted by Congress to give workers as many long weekends as possible, which ended up moving as many holidays to a regular Monday each year. Various states were already celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th, and this celebration was then combined with George Washington’s birthday to make one national holiday. George Washington’s Farewell Address and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation are often read during this time to reflect on their contributions to the United States.

Presidents’ Day is viewed as a time of patriotic recognition and traditional recollection. In present day, it is used by many historical groups as a date for staging celebrations, re-enactments and other events. A number of states also require that their public schools spend the days leading up to Presidents’ Day teaching students about the accomplishments of the presidents, often with a focus on the lives of Washington and Lincoln. It is a popular day for stores to start their sales, typically features some of the best car deals of the year.

The Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Credit@wikimedia

The Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Credit@wikimedia

With such famed attractions as the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia offers a place of historical discovery. From February 15th to 17th, the National Constitution Centre celebrates Presidents’ Day with distinguished tours, crafts, trivia, games, and activities for people of all ages to take part in. The President’s House site tells the history of the slaves that worked at President George Washington and President John Adams presidential home at Sixth and Market streets. A few days before President’s Day, on Wednesday, February 12th, Historic Philadelphia honours President Abraham Lincoln’s 205th birthday at Independence Square. This complementary celebration consists of a flag raising, laying of a wreath and playing of Taps. On February 15th and 16th, Historic Philadelphia spotlight the portraits of President George Washington, Martha Washington and their contemporaries during free tours at the 2nd Bank Portrait Gallery.

Philadelphia is just one of the many places to celebrate President’s day. Mt. Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States is Washington’s ancestral home and place of both he and his wife Martha’s tomb. Admission is complementary on President’s Day and special tours are given throughout the day to learn a portion of U.S. History that observes the accomplishments of the man known as “The Father of his Country.” Foodways of Washington’s Time is a cooking demonstration at the Mercer Museum which highlights the first presidents’ favourite food. The country’s largest Presidents’ Day Parade (George Washington Birthday Parade) in Old Town Alexandria may be observed on the streets where Washington once walked and was also an important port during the colonial, revolutionary and Civil War periods.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial featuring sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents Credit@ladydragonflyherworldviaflickr

Mount Rushmore National Memorial featuring sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents Credit@ladydragonflyherworldviaflickr

Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was built to honour the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. Daniel Chester French, the leading American sculptor back then, created the famous statue of Lincoln which takes over the interior and is meant to symbolise strength, unity, and wisdom.

History may be engraved in many cultures, and its leaders celebrated in honour of their involvement. President’s day is an opportunity to learn about the past and enjoy the present celebrations.

In what ways might history shape and form the contemporary holidays of today?

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