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Bartlett pushes for holiday change

April 07, 1999

Congress designated George Washington's birthday a national holiday in 1968, but somewhere along the line, it was replaced by Presidents Day.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., thinks that's wrong.

"It was another excuse to have a sale and kids don't go to school," Bartlett said.

Bartlett has sponsored legislation that would require all federal calendars and documents to refer to the holiday as George Washington's Birthday.

Bartlett said he got involved in the effort because he represents Washington County, the first county in the nation named after the first president and Revolutionary War hero.

The county also boasts the nation's first monument to Washington.

Bartlett said he is disturbed by the short shrift modern school textbooks give to Washington, the only president ever unanimously elected president by the Electoral College. It's a feat he accomplished twice.

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Bartlett said the legislation is timely because this year is the bicentennial of Washington's death.

Bartlett said some have suggested the effort represents a slight to Abraham Lincoln. Not so, he said. In fact, he said Lincoln is his favorite president, followed by Washington and Ronald Reagan.

Bartlett said it would be worthwhile to focus separately on Lincoln during his birthday.

- Brendan Kirby

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