SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Presidents' Day is officially called “Washington's Birthday" at the federal level, but it honors all those who served as President.
“Each of those leaders, whether we agreed with them or disagreed with them, were always trying to do their best to put their country first,” said Goleta City Council Member James Kyriaco.
Clean Coalition founder Craig Lewis works extensively on clean energy policy and noted that presidents have immense power to shape our daily lives.
“Politics shapes policy and policy shapes everything about our lives, from the environment to education to the way that tax dollars are spent,” said Lewis.
Lewis highlighted the presidencies of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, saying their values align with his goal to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
“The mark of a great presidential legacy is somebody who makes decisions that are going to leave the country in a better place than when they found it,” said Lewis.
Substitute teacher Remi Enobakhare says Abraham Lincoln was a pivotal figure in leaving the country better than where it was before the Civil War.
“He at least made the step to make sure that there was no more human slavery,” said Enobakhare.
But she says even his legacy was marred by some ugly truths.
“He was not one dimensional. He also had personal opinions about black people that were ugly and not true, and that he thought that they were not really on the same level of humankind as everyone else,” said Enobakhare.
One college student is aware of the fallibility of our presidents including George Washington.
“He owned a lot of slaves. A lot of the presidents, like, have their own contradictions, so they are not all perfect. But I feel like if you look at them individually, maybe you can find like the good aspects in all of them,” said Mehranaz Bastani.
Locals say that it’s important to take an honest and balanced approach when reflecting on the contributions of the leaders who helped shape this nation and even this city.
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