Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy President's Day

Love him!

Today, when we celebrate President's Day, we can celebrate President Obama and the possibility of real change. We can celebrate authentic, civic-minded leadership in all its forms. When I was attending a Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership writer's retreat in upstate New York, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of amazing women, including the Woodhull Institute's inspirational executive director, Wende Jager-Hyman. She recently penned a letter* to us Woodhull alums, which should remind us all about the power of thoughtful (not mindless) patriotism. The namesake of the Woodhull Institute, Victoria Woodhull, was the first woman to ever run for President of the United States, before women even had the right to vote. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, President Obama - and countless other examples of ethical leaders who will never be president, like Victoria Woodhull - they are what truly makes the United States powerful.

* I attached this letter as a comment to this post...


Eden From Sweden said...

Dear Woodhull Community,

On Monday, February 16th, the third Monday in February 2009,
we will be celebrating the federal holiday we know as Presidents' Day. Many of you will not be working, American Flags will be flying high and stores will be running sales. The History Channel will probably have shows highlighting the lives of Washington and Lincoln. Politicians will make speeches. Some will feel a surge of patriotism but few will give the day much thought.

When I was in elementary school, we celebrated both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. School was actually closed on February 12th and 22nd. Yes, that was before the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, when the business lobbies decided that you could sell more products over a three day weekend then you could if a holiday fell on just any old day of the week. Did you know that Lincoln's birthday was never a federal holiday? In fact, the only President that is honored by having a federal holiday named after him is Washington. That is right, when you think you are celebrating Presidents' Day you are really celebrating the Federal Holiday of Washington's Birthday. In 1968 Congress voted down an official change of name and it is still Washington's Birthday. Twelve states, however, have made Washington's birthday a state holiday that celebrates both great men and called it Presidents' Day. New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and California are the only states that still recognize Lincoln's birthday as a holiday.

So when you shut off your alarm and go back to sleep on the third Monday of February every year, take a moment to think about the implications of the day, how it evolved, how government influences culture and visa versa. Think about how George and Abe would feel about how they are celebrated (or not really celebrated). Think about how they contributed to how you live today. Then, you can yawn, roll over and rest up before you get ready to shop. Happy Presidents' Day!

-Wende Jager-Hyman
Executive Director

janet said...

Go Oooooobama!!!! Wouldn't Lincoln be proud????