OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

A cheeky spin on Presidents Day: Washington, Lincoln, charity, and a call to action

Apparently, there is considerable debate over whether today is Presidents Day, President’s Day, or Presidents’ Day.

Whether we are honoring Washington, Lincoln, the office of the President, or a much-needed day off – adding a bit of charity today will make you feel great!  Donate today to OneJustice in honor of your favorite President.

So, most of us refer to today’s holiday as some variation on “Presidents Day” – but the federal holiday you’re celebrating (if you are one of the lucky ones to get the day off) is actually officially designated to celebrate Washington’s birthday (February 22nd, 1732).

“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”

“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”

Launched in 1879, the history of this holiday goes through some twists and turns starting in the 1950s – with the beginning of a press toward having a more generic “Presidents Day.”  The whole thing was complicated by the fact that President Lincoln – who apparently gets only his own state holiday – was also born in February, creating the possible burden of celebrating Washington’s birthday, Lincoln’s birthday, and Presidents’ Day – all in the space of one month.  To  make it all even more confusing, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (yep, there actually was legislation with that name!) passed in 1968 – thereby ensuring the holiday always falls on the 3rd Monday in February and therefore, by default, will never actually fall on either Washington’s or Lincoln’s birthday.

So – given the confusing status of this actual holiday – it could leave all of us wondering aloud, “What are we actually supposed to celebrate today?” 

Well, we have a cheeky suggestion of one way to honor something Washington and Lincoln had in common – a belief in giving back to those in need.

Both Presidents Washington and Lincoln supported charity by individuals to help those facing hard times.  As George Washington once wrote, “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”  In fact, after Philadelphia suffered a terrible attack of fever in the late 1790s, Washington apparently wrote the following to a clergyman based in the city about his desire to contribute his own funds to help those suffering: “It has been my intention ever since my return to the city, to contribute my mite towards the relief of the most needy inhabitants of it.  I am at a loss, however, for whose benefit to apply the little I can give, and in whose hands to place it; whether for the use of the fatherless children and widows, made so by the late calamity, who may find it difficult, whilst provisions, wood, and other necessaries are so dear, to support themselves; or to other and better purposes, if any, I know not.”

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in theright as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish thework we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him whoshall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do allwhich may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselvesand with all nations.”

“With malice toward none, with charity for all”

Everyone knows that President Lincoln came from humble beginnings, and it therefore comes as no surprise that Lincoln remained sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate throughout his time in political office.  Indeed, Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address given on March 4, 1865, spoke so compellingly of the need for charity – in a time of strife and much-needed healing of the nation – in a way that echoes still today: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”  (True confessions, we have to admit that some members of the OneJustice team cried a little during this part of the movie Lincoln.)

So – both Washington and Lincoln believed in personal charity – and charity for all.  A lovely commonality!  And what other commonality exists?  Ok, fair warning – we know that this is (a) a stretch and (b) completely cheesy — but we just couldn’t resist.  Here it is: their images are emblazoned on our country’s currency – Washington on the quarter and the $1 bill – and Lincoln on the penny and the $5 bill.

Washington and Lincoln’s shared belief in giving back plus their images on our currency must amount to a message from the universe that we should all celebrate today by making a small donation to a cause we belief in – and OneJustice is delighted to be that cause!

It is easy to give online through our secure donation page.

It is easy to give online through our secure donation page.

All kidding aside, every donation – $1, $5, $25 or $100 – supports our network’s efforts to expand the legal assistance available to Californians in need. Every dollar contributed by our network removes needless suffering from solvable legal problems.  And because our work relies on the involvement of our strong, dedicated, and passionate network – which is ALL OF YOU – it feels really good to get involved and give back!  So if you are looking for  bit of quirky fun today – give a little donation online today to OneJustice in honor of Washington, Lincoln – or YOUR favorite President!  Thank you in advance for your support!

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