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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Feb 16, 2008

Monday, Feb. 18 is more than just another holiday. It’s Presidents Day, the day when we take time to think of the presidents who led our country through times of war, of challenge, and of prosperity.

While Presidents Day is generally regarded as a day to honor Presidents Washington and Lincoln, it is also a day that we can dedicate to the memory of all presidents.

Who can forget the challenges they faced and the difference they made for us today.

How about President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. The United States was just barely a country when it was approached about the biggest land deal in history. Many thought buying so much unexplored territory insane, but it proved to be the first, major step in the opening of the West.

Within a few months, Jefferson met with Meriwether Lewis to plan the trip of the Voyage of Discovery. Then, in 1804, Lewis and William Clark set out on a journey that defied all odds and set the stage for our country’s future expansion.

So how did this country thank Jefferson?

Jefferson, who was later chastised for falling in love and having children with a black servant after he had long been a widower, died in relative poverty.

President Andrew Johnson brokered another incredible land deal — the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million or about 2 cents an acre. The purchase was termed “Seward’s Folly” after his secretary of state William Seward.

Can you imagine how the Cold War would have gone if the Soviet Union still owned Alaska? We would probably all be drinking vodka instead of Budweiser right now.

So how did this country thank President Johnson?

Johnson was acquitted by one vote after articles of impeachment were filed against him. The 35-19 count was just short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

President John F. Kennedy had the courage to face down the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. Probably the most tense period since World War II, our world sat on the edge of nuclear catastrophe. But Kennedy faced down the Soviets.

That’s not all, though. President Kennedy’s legacy included his vision of dealing with world hunger and putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Tragically, Kennedy’s term was cut just short of the 1,000 days he said in his inaugural address would not be enough to accomplish the goals he had set for our nation.

These are just three more presidents who deserve to be remembered for what they did for our country.

So on Monday, do more than just have a vacation or grouse about not getting your mail. Pay homage to one of our presidents that truly deserves to be honored.