Every year, we remember George Washington in our regular day-to-day lives. Learn more about the many ways Americans celebrate and honor the life of the first president.

1. George Washington's Birthday

"George Washington" addresses the crowds on his birthday (MVLA)George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Pope's Creek, Virginia. To celebrate Washington's Birthday each year, Mount Vernon hosts a special Free Day where all visitors get complimentary admission.

Join us on Free Day

George Washington's Actual Birthday?

Learn the complicated story behind George Washington's birth date and the truth about "Presidents' Day" holiday.

2. Purple Heart Day

In 1782, General George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, fashioned into the shape of a heart. In 1932, this award was renewed at the behest of General Douglas MacArthur as the Purple Heart that we know today. 

At Mount Vernon, Purple Heart Day is commemorated with the presentation of the colors, a musical performance by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and remarks by a Mount Vernon leadership.

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4th of July celebrations include costumed interpreters conducting military demonstrations (MVLA)

4th of July celebrations include costumed interpreters conducting military demonstrations (MVLA)

3. Independence Day

When the Continental Congress declared independence in 1776, George Washington was many miles away. He received an official notification via a letter dated July 6, 1776, from John Hancock, along with a copy of the declaration which he presented to the Continental Army troops stationed in Boston, MA.

Today, we celebrate every 4th of July with An American Celebration at Mount Vernon. Festivities include dazzling made-for-daytime fireworks shot over the Potomac River and Revolutionary War military re-enactments.

An American Celebration

4. Reading of the Farewell Address

Written by George Washington to "The People of the United States of America" near the end of his second term as President, the Farewell Address was originally published in the American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States. It was reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form.

read the full address

A Tradition in Congress

Every year, senators read Washington's farewell address on his birthday.

5. Thanksgiving Proclamation

In November 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation calling for "a day of public thanksgiving".

read the primary source


It was actually President Abraham Lincoln who helped designate Thanksgiving as the federal holiday we know and celebrate it today.

6. Crossing of the Delaware

General Washington and his Continental Army famously crossed the Delaware River on the cold night of December 25, 1776, a risky offensive maneuver which ultimately changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

An annual re-enactment occurs each December at the site. Thousands gather on the banks of the Delaware River to watch a recreation of George Washington’s daring 1776 Christmas night river crossing. During the event, hundreds of reenactors in Continental military dress listen to an inspiring speech by General Washington and then row across the river in replica Durham boats.

Washington Crossing Park

Washington's sarcophagus in his family tomb at Mount Vernon (MVLA)

Washington's sarcophagus in his family tomb at Mount Vernon (MVLA)

7. George Washington's Passing

On the evening of December 14, 1799, George Washington passed away of a throat infection in his own bedchamber Mount Vernon. He was buried four days later in the family vault at Mount Vernon.

learn more about the Death of George Washington
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