Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

February 24, 2012

President’s Day: Where it came from and how it has become what it is today

By Curt Oden, Exline Correspondent
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — It continues to be an unbelievable winter with the unseasonable weather that we continue to have. I do not know how well that will be for the farmers because of the lack of moisture but from a shoveling standpoint, it is good news!

The recipe for this week, is one Denise made and served on Super Bowl Sunday.   She says it tastes like a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, without the  lettuce.   It was really good.  The recipe is called:


B.L.T. Dip



8 ounces of sour cream

1 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing

2 ripe medium size tomatoes diced or (15 cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 pound pre-cooked bacon, broke into small pieces (can be pre-cooked store bought)


To make this dip, use a medium size bowl.   Add the sour cream and Miracle Whip and mix together.  Then, add the cut up tomatoes and pieces of bacon and blend everything well.

It tastes great served on pieces of Melba Toast, or you may use crackers.


With the President’s Day holiday, just being held this past Monday, did you know there is controversy regarding the official designation of that holiday?

Originally, it is known that Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was Feb. 12, and George Washington’s birthday was Feb. 22.  But there is further history behind this information.

When George Washington was born, his actual birth date was Feb. 11, 1731. At the time, America and England went by the Julian calendar. That was established during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar in the year of 46 B.C., and had been in effect since that time.

In the 1500’s, it was discovered that the calendar was off by at least 12 days. This caused certain holidays to come at the wrong time of the year, such as Easter, not quite occurring during the spring Equinox because it add flaws in it’s calculations.

So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII, put the Catholic world onto a new calendar, which bears his name. The new Gregorian calendar had a leap year every four years, along with some other calculations and it followed the seasons on a more regular basis.

Since the country of England was Protestant, it was slow to change to the Catholic’s new calendar.  By the mid — 1700’s, it was realized that the Julian calendar had flaws so in 1752, England switched to the Gregorian calendar. At the time, the American Colonies also switched to the new calendar, since they were still under British rule and this is the calendar we still use today.

When they first switched, it changed New Year's Day from March 25 to Jan. 1,  This caused the calendar to advance one year.  It also cut 11 days out of the year to catch up with the countries that were already using the Gregorian calendar. This caused, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1752, to be followed immediately by Thursday, Sept. 14, 1752 the next day.

So, that is why George Washington’s birthday changed from Feb. 11, 1731 to Feb. 22, 1732.

George Washington’s birthday was celebrated publicly, while he was the president of the United States but it was President Chester A. Arthur who made it official in 1885, by signing a bill making it a national holiday.

On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, the esteemed president, who led the country during the Civil War, has never had a national holiday designated in his honor.   Because of the strife of the Civil War for many years afterward, it was feared this would be controversial, to recognize his birth date, as a federal holiday.

Over the years, individual states have declared Feb. 12 Lincoln’s birth date, as a state holiday, including the state of Illinois. But this date has never been celebrated as a holiday by the federal government.

There have been different people and legislators who have tried to get Lincoln’s birthday recognized as a federal holiday, one of which was as late as 2001, but none of these attempts have been successful.

Then, they arrived at the February holiday, commonly referred to as President’s Day. In 1968 the U.S. Congress passed a law establishing the Monday Holidays Act.

This moved the observance of Washington's birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February.  Some of the members of Congress wanted President’s Day to recognize both Washington and Lincoln but that was rejected. It was still just to observe President Washington’s birthday and give every Federal worker, a three day holiday weekend.

Because of the creation of President’s Day, some states no longer celebrate Lincoln’s birthday as a state holiday, thinking the legislation creating President’s Day was made to honor both former president’s. Then, there are those that believe because of the holiday’s name, it is to honor all presidents, but that is not the case.

Even though, this holiday has become generally known as President’s Day and is so designated on many calendars, that title has not been recognized by Congress.

The official name of the observance on the third Monday in February, is clearly stated in the legislation, as passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, as being known as “Washington’s birthday.”  

So, if you enjoy a piece of cherry pie on President’s Day, you are observing the Father of our Country’s official birthday.

Katie Daily of Cincinnati, had a nice Valentine from her son Donnie, who lives in Oklahoma City. Katie said he sent her a dozen roses, in remembrance of his dad, Don Daily, along with a nice sentiment, on a card. Katie recalled that Don never missed sending her roses on Valentine’s Day and that he has been gone for 12 years now.        

The Exline Recreation Committee had a good turnout for their soup supper that was held last Saturday evening, at the community center.

This past Monday evening in honor of President’s Day, Denise and I attended the open house at the Masonic Lodge in Centerville. Also in attendance from Exline, was Rick Butler, who is the Master of the Lodge this year, along with his wife Vicki, Rick’s mother Betty Butler and from Centerville, their son Chad Butler, his wife Rachel and their children Wesley and their daughter Emily were also there.

The event was attended by both members of Centerville’s Masonic Lodge and of Eastern Star.   It was open to the public and there were a couple of guests that were also present.

Rick gave a brief talk about what is needed to become a Mason, as well as describing some of the community sponsored things they are involved in.   Each year, the Centerville Masons sponsor a teacher, as Teacher of the Year and they also award scholarships to deserving students.   

Then, Vicki Butler who is a State Grand Officer this year, spoke on behalf of Eastern Star and explained some of the things they do. This year they are raising money for cancer research on behalf of the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City and their drive to get people to test their homes for radon. This odorless gas comes from the ground, and seeps into homes. It is known to cause cancer to those people that have this gas in their residence. So, they are trying to make everyone aware of that and offering information regarding getting a kit to have your home tested.

During the evening, it was also brought up that the late Bill Heusinkveld, who was a member of the Centerville Lodge, used to portray George Washington. He would appear, complete with a period costume and a white wig in years past, on previous George Washington birthday get togethers, at the Lodge. He would relate interesting facts about our nation’s first president and also Washington’s membership as a Mason.

The evening was to honor Washington’s birthday, with cherry pie and ice cream. Peach pie and iced banana cookie bars were also available. A nice evening was spent enjoying the desserts and visiting.