Why President’s Day is more than a Monday

The origin of President’s Day dates back to 1885 to honor the birth date of George Washington, our 1st US President.  It continued each Feb. 22nd thereafter, until 1971, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, permanently moving President’s Day to the 3rd Monday of February.  This Act also included a provision to officially celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Feb 12th birthday on the same date.  Though Washington and Lincoln are the Presidents historically tied to President’s Day, today it is also viewed as a day to honor all of our US Presidents….

…and of course shop!

One of the biggest by-products of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act for retailers was the chance to offer special promotions tied to the Monday holidays.  President’s Day was a perfect match for this; with late February typically being a time when winter is getting old and consumers are getting cabin fever.  What’s better than to have a 3-day weekend of President’s Day Sales to get you out of the house?  In fact, many businesses are now extending these specials for the entire week of President’s Day.   

But the real reason for President’s Day should still be to honor Washington and Lincoln. To this day, they are still ranked #1 and #2 as the greatest Presidents to ever serve our country, with Lincoln usually getting the nod as the greatest.

In honor of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln here’s a number of inspiring quotes that are as applicable today as the day they were first spoken by these legendary leaders; regardless of your business or profession.


On Values…

“It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.”  ― George Washington

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”  ― George Washington

 “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ― Abraham Lincoln


On Preparation…

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” ― Abraham Lincoln


On Perseverance…

“99% of failures come from people who make excuses.” ― George Washington

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” ― George Washington

“the harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” ― George Washington

The best example of Perseverance may be the resume of Lincoln as summarized on a popular Successories poster: 

 He failed in business in ’31. He was defeated for state legislator in ’32. He tried another business in ’33. It failed. His fiancee died in ’35. He had a nervous breakdown in ’36. In ’43 he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in ’48 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in ’55. He lost. The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In ’59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated. In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States. The difference between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.”


On Attitude…

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.” ― George Washington

 “Whatever you are, be a good one.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Both Washington and Lincoln were well respected for their high degrees of integrity and character, attributes most great leaders possess.   Attributes that are still needed in business today just as they were when George Washington lead the Continental Army and when Abraham Lincoln wrote Emancipation Proclamation.   Technology may change but characteristics of great leaders has remained pretty consistent throughout history.

So if you’re working, playing, shopping or doing all three this President’s Day/week, take a few minutes to remember why we’re celebrating this day to begin with.  It’s really a lot more than a 50% off sale!

How about you? What’s your favorite quote by Lincoln and/or Washington?  Did we miss one on this list?   As always we appreciate your comments in the space below. 

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach