If you were born before 1971, or better still conscious before 1971, you remember a different February—a month with two holidays ten days apart.
On February 12 we honored Abraham Lincoln, and on the 22nd, George Washington.
That was it. At that point, we had had 37 presidents and had chosen to honor but two. It was economical and uncomplicated, though maybe unfair.
For neither Roosevelt made the cut. Teddy was president at the right time and gained a spot on Rushmore, and FDR led us out of the worst financial crisis we had ever faced. Not good enough.
Jefferson oversaw the greatest land bargain in history— 827,000 square miles for just four cents an acre, and all that got him was his face on the two-dollar bill. Seen many of those lately?
JFK engineered the space program and made politics germane to America’s youth. No day for you!
Some like Eisenhower, Madison, and Adams (minus the Q) rank high for their moral authority, while Grant and Adams (with the Q) knew their way around the diplomatic table. Still....
And there's no Harry Truman Day, though it was he who made equal justice for all his primary objective. He was equally ignored.
Lincoln and Washington. Period.
And then came the need for more three-day weekends—an honorable cause for sure—and Presidents’ Day was born.
Now we get to honor 46 of them...
...like Herbert Hoover, the man who didn’t like to talk to people but was sure the Great Depression would work itself out. It didn’t.
...and Millard Fillmore, who feared Southern secession and bought off the South by promoting the spread of slavery. (He was, nonetheless, our best Millard.)
...and Warren G. Harding, an avid golfer whose record of corruption and scandal was thought never to be equaled. (We are currently re-evaluating.)
...and Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, whose support and encouragement of slavery practically mandated there would be a Civil War. And there was.
...and Andrew Johnson—don't even get me started.
Presidents all—who without Presidents’ Day would be well and honorably forgotten.
And so today we honor Donald Trump in the same breath as Jefferson and Madison. But if that bothers you, remember, Trump must share the “accolades” with 45 others, one of them Barack Obama; and that little fact should enrage the man just enough to make Presidents' Day almost worthwhile.