image005Guest Column by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted

OHIO – Officially, the United States Code deems this Monday, February 17 a
federal holiday commemorating “Washington’s Birthday.” However, over the
years, this has caused some confusion among astute history students who
generally agree that our nation’s first president was born on February
22, 1732.

Why the discrepancy? Well, what started out as a legal holiday to honor
George Washington on the anniversary of his birth was revised in 1971
under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That meant from that year forward,
the federal holiday would be observed on Mondays, regardless of the
date, and that many Americans could therefore celebrate George
Washington each year with a three-day weekend!

In the state of Ohio, we respect and honor the contributions of George
Washington just as all Americans do. We are also more than happy to
celebrate “Presidents’ Day,” as the holiday has unofficially come to be
known, because our state has the distinction of contributing more
individuals to our nation’s highest office than any other state. Ohio is
the “Mother of Presidents” and on Presidents’ Day, I encourage all to
take a moment to learn something new and to reflect on our history by
visiting www.OhioFoundingFathers.com
<http://www.OhioFoundingFathers.com> . For example, did you know that
February is also the birth month of our nation’s ninth president,
William Henry Harrison, who ran and was elected president while a
resident of Cincinnati, Ohio?

My office launched the Founding Fathers initiative last year in order to
provide a one-stop shop for students of all ages to learn these and
other facts about Ohio. Here you will not only find information about
the leaders and events that have shaped our state’s history, but you can
also easily access historical records maintained by the Secretary of
State’s office, including election statistics, past and current laws of
Ohio and the Ohio Constitution. One of our primary goals was to make
civics education fun. We are pleased that since July of 2013, thousands
of visitors have logged on to our site and tested their Ohio knowledge
by taking our “Do You Know Ohio” quiz.

As the chief elections official for the state, I believe that if we want
future generations of voters to be good citizens and to make informed
decisions, having a strong foundation in our history is a good place to
start. So whether you plan to celebrate “Presidents’ Day,”
“Washington’s Birthday,” or maybe even William Henry Harrison’s birthday
(Feb. 9) please take this opportunity to learn something new about our
past this month.