Holidays in the United States of America

On Monday, January 20, 1986, in cities and towns across the country people celebrated the first official Martin Luther King Day, the only federal holiday commemorating an African-American. A ceremony which took place at an old railroad depot (депо) in Atlanta Georgia was especially emotional. Hundreds had gathered to sing and to march. Many were the same people who, in 1965, had marched for fifty miles between two cities in the state of Alabama to protest segregation and discrimination of black Americans.

All through the 1980's, controversy surrounded the idea of a Martin Luther King Day. Congressmen and citizens had petitioned the President to make January 15, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, a federal holiday. Others wanted to make the holiday on the day he died, while some people did not want to have any holiday at all.

January 15 had been observed as a public holiday for many years in 27 states and Washington, D.C. Finally, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan declared the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.

Schools, offices and federal agencies are closed for the holiday. On Monday there are quiet memorial services as well as elaborate ceremonies in honour of Dr. King. On the preceding Sunday, ministers of all religions give special sermons reminding everyone of Dr. King's lifelong work for peace. All weekend, popular radio stations play songs and speeches that tell the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Television channels broadcast special programs with filmed highlights of Dr. King's life and times.

4.Presidents’ Day

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 (1861-1865), was a holiday in most states.

In the 1970s, Congress declared that in order to honour all past presidents of the United States, a single holiday, to be called Presidents' Day, would be observed on the third Monday in February. In many states, however, the holiday continues to be known as George Washington's birthday. Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal public holidays to honour the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22). In 1971 President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal public holiday, the Presidents’ Day, to be observed on the third Monday of February, honouring all past president of the United States of America.

Abraham Lincoln

" .As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy"

"If we do not make common cause to save the good old ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage"

Of all the presidents in the history of the United State, Abraham Lincoln is probably the one that Americans remember the best and with deepest affection. His childhood in the frontier of Indiana set the course for his character and motivation later in life. He brought a new honesty and integrity to the White House. He would always be remembered as "honest Abe." Most of all, he is associated with the final abolition of slavery (уничтожение рабства). Lincoln became a virtual symbol of the American dream whereby an ordinary person from humble beginnings could reach the pinnacle (вершины) of society as president of the country.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in Kentucky, and spent the first seven years of his life there. They were difficult years in which Thomas Lincoln, Abe's father tried to make a living as a carpenter (плотник) and farmer. The Lincolns moved from farm to farm around Kentucky, until 1816, when the family left to settle in Indiana. The United States was still young, and the Midwest was a wild, unsettled frontier (граница). They stopped in the middle of a forest in Spencer County, Indiana. Neighbours were few and far away, and the family lived in a three-sided shelter until Abe's father cleared enough land and built a log cabin(деревянная хижина).

Abe and his sister helped with the heavy daily tasks that came with farming. He cleared the woods for farmland with his father, and became so skilled at splitting logs that neighbours settling into the Indiana territory paid him to split logs. At the time, he confessed that he did not really like manual labour. He wrote later that although he was very young, an axe was put into his hand, and he "was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument."

In his entire life, Abe was only able to go to school for a total of one year. This lack of education only made him hungry for more knowledge. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, influenced him in his quest for learning. Although she was completely uneducated and could not read or write, she encouraged her children to study by themselves. His beloved mother died when he was nine years old, The family was greatly saddened, and for a while lived almost in squalor. Two years later, however, Thomas Lincoln remarried. Abe's stepmother was also instrumental in encouraging him to read. He even travelled to neighbouring farms and counties to borrow books. He was often found reading next to a pile of logs that he should have been splitting.

When he was older, Abe noticed that people loved to listen to stories. He began telling tall tales in the general store where he worked. Customers came and stayed when they knew he was there, just to hear him talk. The family moved once again, this time to Illinois. He began working in a store in the new capital of Springfield. His powers of speech soon helped him enter a new arena, that of politics and law. In 1834 he was elected into the House of Representatives and began studying to become a lawyer.

In 1839, he met his future wife Mary Todd. Coincidentally, she had been born in

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