On his first Presidents Day as President of the United States, Joe Biden posted a video message calling for unity and a spirit of public cooperation.
Text tweeted alongside the video read, “The American story isn’t a story of presidents, it’s a story of the American people — a story of courage, character, strength, and resilience.” That was also at the opening of the video message he delivered.
Biden’s brief — one minute, twenty nine seconds — missive had echoed of his inaugural speech and other recent public statements, particularly the line, “If we do it together as one nation, one people, one America, we will not fail. America never has.”
Another bit reminiscent of his inaugural: “I promise you, my whole soul is in the work ahead of us.”
The president also invoked predecessors who faced similar periods of great national disunity and strife: Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy and Johnson.
“I know we’ll get through this,” he said in the clip, “because I know the story of this country. The American people have never, ever let this country down, given half a chance.”
“The American story isn’t a story of presidents, it’s a story of the American people — a story of courage, character, strength, and resilience.” — President Biden’s message on this Presidents’ Day pic.twitter.com/VbmEO7u2ns
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 15, 2021
Some, including presidential historian Michael Beschloss, took to Twitter to point out that officially the holiday is still specifically known as “Washington’s Birthday.”
Legally today’s federal holiday is “Washington’s Birthday,” not a generic “Presidents’ Day” intended to honor all Presidents, including Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding and Donald Trump.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 15, 2021
But the date has not always been used to celebrate the first president’s birthday, according to the National Archives. Until 1971, the holiday was on George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. It was then moved to a Monday — along with many other national remembrances — by the Uniform Monday Holiday Law.
In 1885, Congress designated February 22 as a holiday, making George Washington’s Birthday the first Federal holiday to honor an individual’s birth date. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed it to the third Monday in February. https://t.co/x5QWJ57xb1 pic.twitter.com/yC0ebYpsk5
— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) February 15, 2021