This year on February 18th, Americans will celebrate President’s Day. Since 1971, President’s Day has been celebrated on the third Monday in February. George Washington, the first president of the United States and commonly referred to as the father of the country, was born on February 22, 1732 and the original version of the holiday was created to honor him in 1885. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, was increasingly observed in different parts of the country. Since President’s Day must always fall on the third Monday in February, it is guaranteed to occur between Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays. Despite the reverence felt for these two presidents and the proximity of their respective birthdays, the holiday is an honor all US presidents.

The word president comes from the Latin words “prae” and “sedere” which mean “sit” and “before” respectively. The title of president was established in the United States Constitution, which was ratified on June 21, 1788. As the executive of the federal government, the president has many duties and certain privileges. In the beginning of the year, the president is required to give a report on the state of the union which is now normally delivered in the form of a speech to both houses of congress, delivered live on national television. An additional duty which belongs to the president is that of Commander-in-Chief. This means that the US military is led by a civilian and not a member of the military. Some privileges that the president is afforded are an official song and secret service protection. The song, Hail to Chief, has been connected with the US president since 1815, but only became formally connected to the presidency in 1954. Four US presidents have been assassinated and thus the president has a corps of bodyguards referred to at the secret service. Founded in 1865, the secret service originally worked on cases of counterfeit currency, but was ordered to protect the president after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.

– Christian Zimmerman, ESL Teacher and ICLS Blog Contributor