Last week congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland held a press conference with Mrs. Robert E. Lee IV, the regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association familiar to readers of last week's cover story, "Updating George Washington." With Mrs. Lee's enthusiastic support, Bartlett has introduced legislation to revive Washington's birthday as a national holiday.
For a couple of decades now, the third Monday of February has been called "President's Day." But that designation is just a popular mistake; the name "President's Day" has no force in federal law, and the misunderstanding has served only to obscure the true meaning of the holiday, which is to celebrate the birthday of the father of our country. Bartlett's bill aims to correct the misapprehension, requiring all federal entities to ditch the term "President's Day" and call the holiday by its right name. It's a small step toward a worthy goal: returning the greatest of the Founding Fathers to his proper place in our public life. So far, Bartlett has assembled a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, including at least one from each of the 13 original colonies. Sen. John Warner promises to introduce companion legislation in the Senate. More power to them all.