A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

President's Day

No doubt somebody else has mentioned this, but it puzzles me why Martin Luther King, Jr. Day receives far more publicity, far more respect, and far more time off than President's Day-- an amalgamation of Lincoln's Feb. 12th birthday, and Washington's Feb. 22nd birthday. Both of those days used to have their own recognition, yet now they must share. Okay, but why does it seem that no one cares?

Let's be clear-- in no way am I suggesting that MLK does not deserve a federal holiday. He does, period, end of story. What he accomplished was remarkable, the vision he brought to the country was transcendent, and his memory should live on as both a testament to what he accomplished and a measuring stick for how far our country and our world still has to go to reach his dream.

But the same exact words can be equally well applied to both Lincoln and Washington. There wouldn't be a country striving for MLK's dream without those two other gentlemen. We almost certainly would've lost the Revolutionary War without Washington, and the United States of America might now consist of 20 or 30 states north of the Mason-Dixon line were it not for Lincoln's resolve. Washington dreamed of a meritocracy and in Jefferson's beautiful summation-- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Lincoln dreamed of a country where all men were equal and where the rule of law, the hope and promise of America, applied to everyone.

What they accomplished was remarkable, the vision they brought to the country was transcendent, and their memories should live on as both a testament to what they accomplished and as measuring sticks for how far our country and our world still has to go to reach those dreams.

So why is President's Day a mere blip on our calendars? A bank holiday and an annoying day when the mail doesn't run? There are MLK events at local schools and libraries, and the President and Congress take time out to remember the great man's legacy. Well and good. But for President's Day there is next to nothing. Business as usual-- why should we care about those old dead white guys?

Except that we should. We really, really should.

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Comments:
Nick, you may find this to be an interesting read.

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/presidents/presidents.asp
 
Interesting-- thanks for the link Corrrrrrrrrrrrri old sock. Still doesn't change the fact that Washington gets short shrift relative to MLK and Lincoln, apparently, doesn't even get recognized at all any more.

Young kids these days, I tell ya. Grumble, mumble, drool.
 
When I was a kid we got both Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's birthday off of school. Ah, February was the greatest month. But seriously, considering our country probably wouldn't be here (or at least, it would be very, very different) if not for these two men, it's a shame we don't do more to recognize them, particularly Washington. Although knowing the man, he would have eschewed all the fuss.
 
You knew Washington? Wow, you're old, dude. From what I've read of Washington, he would have eschewed all the fuss, but would have enjoyed and basked in it none-the-less. The man was not short on ego-- just very good at not indicating how important recognition was too him. Very 18th century. It was probably this lack of feigned humility that has relegated John Adams to second tier behind Washington and Jefferson. Adams' amibition was too naked for 18th century mores.
 
Yes, he and I were neighbors for a while... but then he had to go off and save the country. I asked him to take me with him but he just said that I'd get in the way... :)
 
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