Frank Wolf: Give George Washington his holiday back

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With more and more Americans showing ignorance about who the father of the nation is, a Virginia congressman is moving to restore the birthday of George Washington as a standalone federal holiday, not one created to shop sales.

“We need to change the focus from celebrating sales at the mall to celebrating the significance of President Washington’s birth to the birth of our nation,” said Rep. Frank Wolf.

In legislation backed by Washington's Mount Vernon, Va., home, Wolf would give Washington his Feb. 22 holiday back. It was changed in 1971 when Congress created “Presidents Day” to combine the February birthdays of Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and honor all other presidents on one day. It has become the first major sales weekend of the year.

Wolf has long advocated restoring a standalone holiday for Washington because of the unique history of the nation’s first president. “He is called the ‘father of our country’ because he is without compare in our nation’s history,” said Wolf, who is not seeking re-election.

Like many historians, Wolf fears that Americans are forgetting who Washington is.

In a column on his webpage, Wolf cited a student study that showed many grade-schoolers have a poor grasp of American history. “I have found that students today have a lack of knowledge about our nation's beginnings and the man from Virginia who led the colonies to form the union known as the United States of America,” wrote Wolf.

His legislation is also supported by historians including David McCullough.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.