Each year, on the third Monday of February, the United States celebrates Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday commemorating the highest elected office in our republic. This day was originally established in 1885 in recognition of the birthday of our first president, George Washington, which falls on February 22. However, over the years, the day has come to honor the 44 men who have served our country as Commander in Chief.
In fact, three more presidents also have birthdays in February, including Abraham Lincoln and William Henry Harrison. This Presidents’ Day, I’d like to give special attention to not only my favorite president, but one whose political ideals helped to form the basis of my own values as a state representative—Ronald Reagan—who was born on February 6, 1911.
Known as the father of modern conservatism, President Reagan was a strong advocate for limited government and giving power to the people. As he once said, “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” Government is a crucial part of a successful nation, creating laws and keeping order to protect the public’s wellbeing. However, it is equally as important for citizens to have freedom of choice, to make their own decisions and mistakes while charting their own course.
After all, those are the principles our country was initially founded upon—freedom of speech, religion, and more. We fought for independence from a tyrannical nation that required taxes without equal representation in government. And thus, we became a government of the people, for the people. That fact is vital to remember in the day and age of modern government.
Reagan, a remarkable communicator, also remarked, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” Again, he drives home the point the government exists to assist people, to create policies that inherently promote and encourage a better society, including economic development, healthcare, education, and more. But with that in mind, government is not an entity that dictates each and every person’s life—this is of the utmost importance. And so, this Presidents’ Day, as I reflect on President Reagan’s words, I remind each of you of the central values that make up a successful government for its people.