Why is Barack Obama the 44th president, but only 43 different men have held the office?
That’s because Grover Cleveland is listed in both the 22nd and the 24th positions. He is the only president to have been elected to two non-consecutive terms.
The holiday began as Washington’s Birthday (February 22) and was instituted nationally in 1885. A 1971 law, aimed at providing workers with an ample supply of 3-day weekends, moved the celebration to the 3rd Monday in February—though it kept “Washington’s Birthday” as the official name for the day.
After that change there was a gradual transition to a popular renaming of the holiday to “Presidents’ Day,” and the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration website makes a good point about that: George Washington, one who largely gave up his personal ambitions in order to serve his country, would likely not be offended. Rather, he would lend his approval to the celebration and help applaud the contributions of the 42 men who followed him.
Moreover, Washington would be among the first to remind us that our democratic process is not about people—it’s about an idea, and it’s about freedom. Our presidents don’t retain power as long as they can hold it, nor is a rebellion required for a change in leadership. The United States Constitution and the freedom-loving people who embrace her are intricately tied to the celebration on Presidents’ Day—for without them, the office would not exist … and we would no longer be “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”