Flag Observances for February
Title 4 U.S. Code § 6 (The Flag Code) lists the times and occasions for display of the US Flag.
All are encouraged to fly the flag every day from sunrise to sunset, but especially on the flag holidays listed in Paragraph (d) of the US Flag Code.
Those flag holidays for February are President Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and President Washington’s Birthday on February 22. Presidents’ Day is not actually a Federal holiday, as explained below.
There is confusion surrounding Presidents’ Day as a Federal holiday. President Chester Arthur in 1885 signed into law President Washington’s Birthday as a Federal holiday. Throughout the XIX Century, Washington’s Birthday was treated with the same importance as Independence Day.
Lincoln’s Birthday was first celebrated as a holiday in 1874 in Buffalo, New York. A pharmacist there named Julius Francis made it his life’s work to get the day designated a Federal holiday, repeatedly petitioning Congress; he failed in his mission, dying in 1881.
The Universal Monday Holiday Act of 1968, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson (taking effect during President Richard Nixon’s administration), made the third Monday in February the official celebration for Washington’s Birthday, and designates the day as such. Lincoln’s Birthday has never been a federal holiday (though it was a holiday in some states until the Universal Monday Holiday Act passed).
Since the third Monday always falls between Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, and twelve states have designated that day as a state holiday called Presidents’ Day, confusion remains in the country about the holiday. In the US Code, it is officially Washington’s Birthday (Observed). While calendars commonly mark the third Monday in February as Presidents’ Day, that is not actually the case. It is Washington’s Birthday (observed).Children with the Flag (courtesy Getty Images)