News: Airmen commemorate Presidents Day
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- On Feb. 17, 2014 more than 100 Airmen participated in a Presidents Day retreat ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar to commemorate the U.S. national holiday.
Every year the birthday of George Washington is celebrated nationally, on the third Monday in February, and the Airmen of the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group took time out of their schedules to remember the men who have led the country.
"Every quarter the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing holds a retreat ceremony to secure the U.S. flag during the playing of the national anthem and we thought it would be a good idea to hold this quarter's ceremony on George Washington's birthday, which is commonly referred to as Presidents Day," said Capt. Jason Powell, who is assigned to the 379th EMXG and is deployed from Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.
While some people may think the holiday is a great time to find sales on vehicles, furniture or electronics, Powell, a Colorado Springs, Colo. native, said the holiday is a time to remember the people who have led the nation.
"Presidents are the ranking civilian head in the military and as a service member it is important for us to remember the people who provide us with leadership and guidance," Powell added. "As one of the most powerful leaders in the world, being the commander-in-chief is inherently dangerous. Like our job, their job comes with great responsibility and sacrifice."
During the ceremony, 1st Lt. Joseph Dechert, who is assigned to the 379th EMXG and is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., gave a speech on America's first elected leader, the origin of the holiday and what it means today.
In 1951, the desire for a more generalized recognition of Presidential achievements surfaced and collided with a movement to standardize the observance of certain holidays on Mondays, which would later come to be known as the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act". Contrary to popular belief, the act neither combined the birthday celebrations for Presidents Washington and Abraham Lincoln nor actually changed the holiday's official name to Presidents Day., Dechert, a Newman, Ga. native, said during his speech.
"Presidents Day is an opportunity to recognize the examples set by those Americans who have led and served our nation, in and out of uniform. It is also a chance for us, in the armed services to remember that we serve alongside and in conjunction with our elected leaders, to include the position of commander-in-chief."