Happy Birthday to President Lincoln!

Yesterday, February 12, Western students were not sitting in their designated classrooms taking notes or walking frantically across campus to get to class on time. Why you might ask? It was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which means no school for WIU!  We had the whole day to do whatever we pleased in honor of our 16th president.

As you know, Abraham Lincoln served as our country’s president from March 1861 to April 1865 when he was assassinated.  During his term, Lincoln fought to prevent our country from splitting apart and served as Commander in Chief during the vicious Civil War.  He also began the process of abolishing slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.  He accomplished many more great feats, but the coolest part about Lincoln, in my opinion, is that he ties with Illinois!  He practiced law here; funny story, I am actually a relative of his law partner, William Herndon!

I read online that Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was first observed in Buffalo, New York in 1874.  However, not all states observe this holiday.  Those that do include California, Connecticut, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Arizona, and of course, Illinois! Since Lincoln’s birthday not a federal holiday, most universities observe President’s Day by closing.  So why do we choose to honor Abraham Lincoln on his actual birthday?

The answer to that question can be found from the Provost at WIU.  His office determines the academic calendar each year.  Ken Hawkinson is the provost and academic vice president; he said that since we are in the “Land of Lincoln,” our Board of Trustees decided many years ago that WIU would observe Lincoln’s birthday instead of President’s Day.  

So what did students do on their day off?  I know that many students took this opportunity to head home for the day and spend time with their families.  Many students saw this as an opportunity to catch up on class work and get ahead of the game!  And of course, some students just used the day off to relax.  

What did I do?  Well, with my busy schedule and limited free time, I saw this as a great chance to spend time with my family back on the farm. I also got to teach dance that evening which is always a plus for me! So while the rest of the world enjoys next Monday off for President’s Day, we will be in class, reminiscing about our free time on Lincoln’s birthday. I hope all students enjoyed their day off! 


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