As a lover of US colonial history, George Washington’s birthday is special for me not only because it is a reason for teachers to give a special lesson about Valley Forge or wooden teeth, but also because my dad shares his birthday with our first President. While we were living in the DC area, my dad, who is also passionate about history, and I went to Mount Vernon in honor of the two “father’s” birthdays. For those of you less nerdy than I, this might sound like a boring day filled with people in old-fashioned outfits rattling off boring factoids, but it was an experience my dad and I will never forget. Not only was I able to celebrate my father, but we were able to experience all the festivities put on at Mount Vernon, all the while remembering the courage, tenacity, and hard work our Founding Fathers displayed as they built this great nation we now call home.
While I reflect on President’s Day in a broader sense, I can’t help but think about what our sitting Presidents do to celebrate this day that is named in their honor. I can’t imagine them taking the day off to spend much-needed time with their families. While I’m sure their staffers do something nice in the way of flowers or luncheons, the obligations of being President of the United States of America don’t subside for a federally-mandated holiday. I not only consider the Presidents and the sacrifices they make every day to protect our liberties, but also their families. The selflessness their children show when their dads can’t make it to soccer games and school plays or the fact they can’t go anywhere without being surrounded by Secret Service agents. I think about the wives who stand proudly by their husband’s side during the long days on the campaign trail or the countless hours at galas and receptions instead of relaxing nights on the couch watching Modern Family. I’m grateful for the memories I share with my family on days such as today, and even more thankful that the First Family sacrifices four or more years of precious memories in order to focus on our nation’s future.
While we might not all agree on some of the controversial issues, I think we can all agree that President of the United States is not your average day-job. I hope you take a moment out of your day today to remember the 44 men and their families who have dedicated their personal lives to lead our country. And who knows, maybe sometime soon we’ll be honoring our first Madame President on this day.