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US Celebrates 'President's Day'

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2009, photo, President George W. Bush, center, poses with President-elect Barack Obama, second left, and former presidents, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton, second right, and Jimmy Carter, right, in the Oval Office of the White

February 20 is "President's Day" in the United States, set initially to honor the first president, George Washington, but now themed to honor all who have served in the White House as Commander in Chief.

The first U.S. president, George Washington, actually had two birthdays. When he was born in 1731, the "Julian" calendar was still in use, setting his day on February 11.

But in 1752, the "Gregorian" calendar was adopted, changing Washington's birthday to February 22.

In 1885, Congress set February 22 as a holiday for all federal government workers, honoring the nation's first leader.

Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. And over the years, Washington's birthday was re-purposed to honor both men. And the date of its celebration remained fixed on the first president's February 22 birthday.

The 1968 "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" changed all that by setting Washington's birthday celebration to the third Monday in February, on whatever day that might fall. In 2023, the third Monday is today, February 20.

By the 1980s, "President's Day" had grown beyond observing the births of Washington and Lincoln to become a celebration of all who have held the office of president.

In 2023, there are five living former presidents: Jimmy Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981, Bill Clinton, in office from 1993 to 2001, George W. Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, Barack Obama, 2009 - 2017, and Donald Trump, 2017 to 2021.

One of them, former president Carter, is now in hospice care, which is provided to people very near the end of their lives. At 98 years old, he is the oldest person alive after his White House service.

The "Monday Act" set Mondays as holiday observance day throughout the year. One exception is November 11, Armistice Day in World War I and celebrated as "Veterans Day" today. After being a "Monday" holiday for several decades lawmakers decided to revert it back to November 11 to reflect the end of the Great War.