Happy birthday, Mr. President

| 15 Feb 2012 | 02:22

What would it be like if President George Washington (1732-1799) and President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) returned to earth for a party in their honor on Feb. 20. What would they talk about? The possibilities are endless. Let your mind run free as you imagine.

Landing at Newark International Airport, Washington and Lincoln depart the terminal.

“Hey, Abe, look at all these automobiles. Flying through the air while sitting in a chair was amazing, but look at all these cars,” Washington said.

“First off, please don’t call me Abe, I prefer just Lincoln.” Pulling himself up to his full 6 ft. 4 in. height, he went on, “And look over there, that car has my name on it. I don’t see a Washington model, though,” Lincoln said.

“I heard they sell a lot of these contraptions at what they call a ‘President’s Day Sale.’ Let’s hope the dealers are as honest as you,” said Washington.

“Think about it, George. Remember horse traders?”

The two presidents enter a limousine and head up the highway to West Milford where a blow-out party is planned for them at the high school gym. The people are down, the economy has tanked, gas and food prices are soaring, the unemployment rate is high and the housing crisis drags on. They need a party to cheer themselves as much as to honor two of the greatest presidents in history.

In the car the presidents open a map and study it carefully. “Look here,” Washington said, “A bridge and a tunnel named after each of us. That bridge would have made it a lot easier for my troops to cross the Hudson River. I doubt, however, if Congress would have appropriated the toll money.”

The presidents have time to talk on the ride and one topic is their actual birth dates; they wonder why their birthdays were combined into one holiday. Their chauffeur overhears them, pulls over and enters a search into his lap top. Within a minute their question is answered. They sit in stunned silence, gaping at the computer screen as Joe, the driver, enlightens them.

“It’s my pleasure to help clear this up for you. It’s a federal government thing so, well, you know. Or maybe you don’t. The government is a lot more complicated now.

Anyhow, Mr. Washington, your birthday, Feb. 22, was publicly celebrated during your term in office and it became a federal holiday in 1885. Mr. Lincoln, your birthday, Feb. 12, was never a federal holiday but was celebrated, nonetheless, as a legal holiday in many states.”

Joe went on to explain that in 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act which shifted the observance of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February. Although it was proposed at that time to re-name the holiday “President’s Day” to honor both Lincoln and Washington, the proposal was rejected by Congress. The law went into effect in 1971.

Today the federal government designates the third Monday in February as “Washington’s Birthday” but many Americans believe that the day honors all American presidents, and specifically Washington and Lincoln. “President’s Day” was never authorized by Congress but it gained a strong foothold with the American people and is now in general use and an accepted practice.

“As you said, it’s a lot more complicated now,” President Lincoln said.

As the highway miles pass, Washington and Lincoln relax and Joe turns the radio on. Startled at first, they turn their attention to what’s being said. They hear about caucuses, debates and primaries, and whose baggage will prevent them from ousting the incumbent president. They’ve chosen an election year to show up again.

“Wow, in 1789 it was a lot easier to become president. There was no popular vote but rather each member of the Electoral College cast two votes. The candidate with the most votes became president. I was elected unanimously in the first vote. In the second round of voting John Adams became the vice president.” Washington said.

“I wonder, though, how a public debate between you and Adams would have gone,” Lincoln responded.

“Oh, that Adams was a smart one, no doubt, but I think I won them over with my smile. Dentures, you know,” Washington said.

As the car takes the gentlemen into the Highlands and the scenery changes from city to more rural-like, the presidents recall their birth places; the state of Virginia for Washington, Kentucky for Lincoln.

“This West Milford seems like a nice place to live,” Lincoln said as they drove toward the center of town. “People living in peace. Everything we fought so hard for.”

Joe, listening in, decided not to fill them in on the current wars, civil unrest and terror threats that plague the world today. These men dedicated their lives to bring about a peaceful, civilized nation. Let them have their day, he thought.

After a quick stop at Town Hall for a photo op, they headed towards Highlander Drive. Macopin Road was lined with people, cheering and waving flags.

“The flags are so different, look at all those stars representing the states,” Washington said. “During my lifetime there were only 16 states, and in your lifetime, Lincoln, only 36. Our America has grown.”

“I’ve heard about that 50th state and it sounds interesting. Palm trees, white sandy beaches and something called a hula dance. Do you think they’d let us go there after the party?” Lincoln asked.

Joe pulled up to the entrance of the gymnasium of West Milford High School and escorted the presidents inside. The roaring crowd and the music took them aback. A dais was set up with a huge birthday cake blazing with hundreds of candles. They were so thankful to be remembered and to be so honored. These were the people of the next generations; the ones they had hoped would prosper and grow.

“You know, George, one time they had a curvaceous, gorgeous blonde sing happy birthday to a president. I hope we get the same treatment,” Lincoln said. Turning towards the podium he added, “Oh, never mind. I see Kate Smith is back too.”

Sources: http://timeanddate.com; http://americanhistory.about.com; http://en.wikipediat.org;

http://infoplease.com; http://usparks.about.com