Historical Amnesia

At American History we believe that exploring the story of our nation’s past is essential for anyone who wants to make informed choices as an American citizen. Our goal is not to take sides in the partisan debates of our own era, but rather to provide clarity and inspiration by examining the hard choices made by those who created and nurtured the freedom and democratic privileges we now enjoy. As citizens, we have no greater role model than the founder who was first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. “George Washington held unprecedented power and responsibility, military and political, in a brand new nation, without breaking or bending its laws,” says Richard Brookhiser, a regular contributor to the magazine. “He did every job he was asked, and when he was done he went home.” Brookhiser argues that Congress contributed to the historical amnesia in America when it transformed a federal holiday that is still officially known as George Washington’s Birthday into Presidents Day in order to create a three-day weekend replete with sales extravaganzas. We agree and have joined Brookhiser and other eminent historians, including David McCullough, Ron Chernow and Gordon Wood, in supporting a bill pending in Congress that would reestablish February 22 as the day we celebrate Washington’s Birthday. We’d like to know what you think. Does it matter whether we honor Washington on his actual birthday? And are you willing to give up a three-day weekend to do it? Please email us at [email protected], and we will publish a select group of your responses in a future issue.


Originally published in the February 2013 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.