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Presidents' Day -- February, Third Monday
Until the mid-1970s, the February 22 birthday of George Washington, hero of the Revolutionary War and first president of the United States, was a national holiday. In addition, the February 12 birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the president during the Civil War, was a holiday in most states. The two days have been joined, and the holiday has been expanded to embrace all past presidents. It is celebrated on the third Monday in February.
Memorial Day -- May, Last Monday
This holiday honors the dead. Although it originated in the aftermath of the Civil War, it has become a day on which the dead of all wars, and the dead generally, are remembered in programs held in cemeteries, churches, and other public meeting places.
The Fourth of July or Independence Day -- July 4
Honors the nation's birthday -- the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag (which also occurs on Memorial Day and other holidays) is widespread.
Labor Day -- September, First Monday
This holiday honors the nation's working people, typically with parades. For most Americans it marks the end of the summer vacation season, and for many students the opening of the school year.
Patriot Day -- September 11
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day" . . . in honor of those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On this day, the President calls upon the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day.
Columbus Day -- October, Second Monday
On October 12, 1492, Italian navigator Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. (Most other nations of the Americas observe this holiday on October 12)
Veterans Day -- November 11
Originally called Armistice Day, this holiday was established to honor Americans who had served in World War I. It falls on the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought. Veterans' organizations hold parades, and the president customarily places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.