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Americans on Presidents Day: Admiration, fear mark holiday

4 months 4 weeks 1 day ago Monday, February 20 2017 Feb 20, 2017 February 20, 2017 1:46 PM February 20, 2017 in News
Source: Associated Press

PROVIDENCE - The United States on Monday marked Presidents Day, a holiday that's taking on a new meaning for some Americans this year as Republican President Donald Trump - to the dismay of some and the delight of others - upends traditional notions of the office.

The holiday began as a celebration of George Washington's birthday, Feb. 22, and its official name remains Washington's Birthday.

Throughout the 19th century, communities celebrated with parades and fireworks, said Evan Phifer, a research historian at the White House Historical Association. In the late 1800s, Feb. 22 became a federal holiday.

The holiday was moved to the third Monday in February in 1971, creating a three-day weekend for many workers.

"There was fear when the holiday was moved to the third Monday that it would lose the distinction of Washington's birthday, and people would forget his legacy," Phifer said.

To some extent, that has happened. Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Feb. 12, and many people now associate both presidents with the holiday. It has also become a retail holiday, where shoppers can get deals on cars, furniture and other goods during Presidents Day sales.

The Associated Press spoke with people around the country about their ideas about Presidents Day, the presidency and how it is changing.

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