February 22nd, 2012
This Week in Orange County 2-22-12
Orange County Executive Edward Diana
Goshen - If you have children in school or had the good fortune of having the day off from work on Monday, February 20th, then Presidents’ Day is likely on your radar. For many, this mid-winter holiday signifies a long weekend, a time for car sales, shopping, and winter getaways. But have you ever actually considered the meaning and history behind this holiday recognizing our nation’s highest elected official?
Presidents’ Day originated as a recognition of George Washington’s birthday and was designated a federal holiday by an act of Congress in 1880. It was the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen and was originally celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22nd. Following Abraham Lincoln’s death it was believed that his significant role in shaping our nation’s history earned him a special day of recognition as well. As a result, Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, was also recognized as a public holiday. Many states also recognized all of our nation’s leaders with President’s Day on March 4th which was the original inauguration day. In January 1971, as a result of the federal Uniform Monday Holiday Act, the three holidays were merged and recognized as what is now commonly known as Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.
Our first president had many strong ties to Orange County. He maintained a headquarters overlooking the Hudson River in Newburgh, and presented the first Purple Heart awards for meritorious service at the New Windsor Cantonment. It was during his time in Orange County that Washington rejected the notion that he should be king following the war, and here that he circulated a letter to State Governors that influenced the writing of our Constitution.
If you’d like to celebrate George Washington’s 280th birthday, check out the festivities planned at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. Each day re-enactors will perform military drills: Lamb’s Artillery on Saturday, February 18th, the 5th New York Regiment on Sunday, February 19th, and the 5th Connecticut Regiment on Monday, February 20th. In true birthday fashion, there will be cake every day. The Headquarter’s is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 845-562-1195 or visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org.
Whether you live in Orange County, have guests from away, or are visiting the area, you can enjoy some wonderful tours and adventures getting to know the history of our County. To learn more, visit www.orangecountygov.com or the Orange County Tourism website at www.orangetourism.org.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.