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Daily Freeman Life Editor Ivan Lajara talks about journalism, living in the Hudson Valley, language, the Web, cats and even politics. But he shouldn't.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Presidents!

"Although our nation's presidents were unique individuals with different styles and approaches to the presidency, they all have one characteristic in common,” according to the White House's page for kids (silly rabbit, the White House schtick is for kids!)

The common characteristic all the presidents have is, of course, the fact that all the presidents were bundled up in a warm one-day celebration, of car sales, originated by car salesman Abraham Lincoln, if my understanding of history (and advertising) is correct.

The holiday started as a celebration of the birthday of the man who currently resides in the $1 bill. But Lincoln decided to cheapen things by appearing on the penny and also by having his birthday celebrated (other presidents don’t have birthdays).


Tangent: Lincoln, very, very old readers might remember, issued the first dollar bill, with a picture of of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury under, you guessed it, President Abraham Lincoln.

A decision was made in 1968 by a date-meddling body called The Congress to change the celebration, because Washington and Lincoln didn't get along (it had something to do with not living at same time) and also because Washington’s big day was on Feb. 11 and the 22, according to the many celebrations marked by calendar-challenged Americans back in the day.

So, of course, we celebrate the day on Feb. 18 this year, the third Monday in February, because Lincoln's birthday was Feb. 12 and because The Congress found out that Washington kept changing his birthday, which is why I'm assuming his headquarters in Newburgh have been celebrating the day since Saturday.

Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site is still marking G.W.'s birthday Monday from 1 to 4:30 p.m., with a portrayal of Washington by John Koopman (Benjamin Franklin also is set to show up, without a kite). There are also plans for storytelling, weaving, a puppet show, military re-enactors, musicians and the obligatory cake.

Please don’t let them make their cake and eat it, too.

Admission is by donation. Call (845) 562-1195.

I would attend the celebration (not really), but I am working on Monday. Although I’ve been trying for the past seven years to get those pesky newsmakers (like the weather) to stop making news (rain) during federal holidays (or days when the bank's not open), my pleas don’t seem to be working.

I will try again next year.


P.S. I know I’ve offended many with my blatant disrespect for the Fantastic Fathers, also known as the Founding Four.

But please don’t send me to Guantanamo Bay. Although I hear that its residents have health insurance, three meals a day and extreme sports like aquatic-boarding, I have grown fond of icy roads, collapsing garages and potholes.
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