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Presidents Day


In 1796, the last full year of George Washington’s presidency, the citizens of the United States honored their first president by celebrating his birthday, February 22nd.  From the celebration in 1796 sprung a tradition of honoring President Washington by celebrating his birthday.  By the early 1800s, wealthy Americans were celebrating Washington’s birthday with lavish parties and receptions; the average American commemorated the holiday by gathering with friends for picnics or a couple of drinks at the local bar.  Though the majority of Americans celebrated George Washington’s Birthday, it was not an official national holiday until 1880Many states instituted it as a state holiday, however, allowing Americans to enjoy a day off work to celebrate.

By the mid 1800s, another American president had captured the hearts of the American people: President Abraham Lincoln.  Coincidentally, Lincoln’s birthday is February 12th.  In 1865, one year after President Lincoln’s assassination, the nation officially honored his presidency and character by commemorating his birthday.  In 1880, George Washington’s birthday became a federal legal holiday, making Washington the first American to have a federal holiday named in his honor.  Though Lincoln’s birthday did not become an official federal holiday, many states began celebrating it either in addition to or in conjunction with George Washington’s birthday.  Those states that celebrated Lincoln’s birthday in conjunction with Washington’s began calling the holiday Presidents Day.

In 1968, Congress passed legislation, known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that gave federal employees some fixed three-day weekends.  With this legislation, the observance of Washington’s birthday was moved from February 22nd to the third Monday in February.  In the same year, Congress debated the issue of renaming the holiday to Presidents Day.  The motion failed and the holiday is still officially known as Washington’s Birthday even though it is popularly called Presidents Day around the country.

Beginning in the 1900s, few Americans celebrated the holiday with the type of zeal that their ancestors did.  Most businesses closed and for most Americans, the holiday became simply a day off work.  With the advertising boom of the 1980s, however, media executives saw an opportunity to promote the holiday as a “shopping holiday.”  True to the American spirit of consumerism, businesses reopened their doors on Presidents Day in the 1980s and coaxed shoppers with huge sales.  Today, the holiday is synonymous with shopping and sales.  Given the state of the economy, however, it will be interesting to see how retailers fare this Presidents Day compared to those past.



Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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