How Soon We Forget


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As I was writing on Sunday morning to meet some deadlines, I checked my calendar and noticed something worthy of pondering. Presidents’ Day was clearly denoted, but my mind wandered to my earlier life when Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and Washington’s Birthday on February 22 were celebrated separately.

Why would that be? Probably, I foolishly reminisced, because they were two of our greatest presidents and the American people collectively determined they should be honored.

Lincoln’s date was never a federal holiday. It was celebrated in most states, and still is in a few. Washington’s date is still a federal holiday as it has been since 1885, technically, but here is where it gets confusing. President Nixon pushed to change the name of the holiday to Presidents’ Day and altered the celebration date to the third Monday in February. However, the stated purpose of the change was to honor Lincoln and Washington on a single day, which holiday would always fall on a Monday, despite the fact that Lincoln’s birthday was never a federal holiday.

To add to the confusion, the law mentions “Presidents’ Day.” To an English teacher (or anyone born before 1980), placing the apostrophe after the s signifies the plural possessive. Thus, it appears the law clearly intends to encompass all presidents in the national celebration.

All that being said, that is not what disturbs me. It would be nice to honor by name the two presidents who combined to preserve our country. Yet, neither one showed up on my calendar. Instead, I found Groundhog Day, Administrative Professionals Day, Cinco de Mayo, Parents Day, (which I suppose honors anyone who has figured out how to produce offspring), National Bosses’ Day, (which I guess celebrates any heartless bigoted capitalist who pays a salary), United Nations Day (which hopefully will someday be changed to Suppository Thursday), and several others simply “created” by 1960s activists. George and Abe represent the faded past.

I don’t begrudge politically correct administrative assistants their due. I always considered them my equals, and the life blood of any business I operated. As a Nature lover, and particularly an animal lover, groundhogs hold a sacred place in my heart and in our ecosystem. However, I am miffed over the fact that George Washington, who personally put our free nation on the map, who refused to be “King,” forcing our ancestors to create a new form of Constitutional government, and who would have been the first person hanged had the Revolution failed, did not even make it on my calendar. I guess I am politically incorrect.

 


 

Comments

  1. This is by far the best post I have seen on your blog. It makes me sad. I was having my 3rd baby and knew it (we didn't know the sex before the baby was born, back then) would be born on Washington's birthday. There was something special about that. No more, really because no one knows anymore that Feb 22 is Washington's birthday.

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    1. Manzie: Thank you. I respect tradition and those who merit our honor a great deal.

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  2. Suppository Thursday is my fvorite! Maybe we should also have a Politicly Correct Day, it could be every Mondy thru Friday.

    You are so right, Washington was the first and the GREATEST President!

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    1. joeh: I would have to agree. He was the greatest.

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  3. That was interesting. We don't tend to celebrate our past leaders...I can't imagine our country having, for example, a Margaret Thatcher day...I think if it was suggested Scotland would indeed vote for independence in the upcoming referendum!

    C x

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  4. JJ- you are using the wrong calendar! Good old wonderful George has his name on February 22nd on my "Lighthouse 16 month 2013 calendar" STILL! Dist. by Dalmatian Press, Franklin, TN printed (surprisingly out of the US) in Ningbo, Zhejang, China! Along with Lincoln on the 12th. I usually have a Mary Engelbreit desk calendar, but didn't get one this year, she always had George and Abe's birthday printed. Mary really posts lots of things, even things from other countries, a fact filled calendar that was always a delight for customers to see too! I've always wondered why just those two were plotted for calendars, and I know young students today that ask why do we have MLK on the calendar? But more importantly they wonder why is it a holiday and schools are closed? My 2nd grade grandchild told me, {"It doesn't matter I just like the day off from school!" Hmm... (was my thoughts on that! When I went to school we discussed it in length,(he told me they did not) I guess this is a topic that causes much reflection for me as well. Good post JJ.

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    1. Karen: Thanks. The topic did cause me to stop what I was doing to reflect as well.

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    2. Reflection is always good for us! Did you stop by my Sepia Saturday last week? I think you'd enjoy it! I'll check now and see if you did, and bring you the link if not! Enjoy your week ! Smiles your way!

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    3. http://twincitiesblather.blogspot.com/2013/02/sepia-saturday-26-february-2013.html?showComment=1361806495945#c3204318346580528563

      Check it out JJ!

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  5. Between your post and the comments I read, I felt compelled to check our calendars. Some had the birthdays and some didn't... hmmm. So, it seems to me that the real angst here is that we have moved to a place in time that it is acceptable for it to NOT be on a calendar. That simply wouldn't have happened in say... the 1950s. Maybe it would have been unacceptable up until the 1980s. Even though those days were not "holidays" per se, they absolutely would have been on EVERY calendar - no exceptions. I think that they real problem is that the calendar is merely a reflection of where we are as a society and how we are doing at honoring our history. My house seems to indicate it's about 50-50 in wall calendars. I didn't get into checkbook calendars, pocket calendars, etc. I fear that the picture would only get bleaker.

    Thank you for "reframing" this picture.

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  6. Robin: I have two calendars, neither has George. One is from a local high school and the other is from a national bank.

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  7. Given how I've noticed that the office of President ages all the men who have held that office, I think it's okay to have Presidents' Day in honor of all of them. They have served their country by sitting in the hottest of hot seats.

    Besides, Washington didn't 'put our country on the map' by his lonesome.
    Funding and additional troops were obtained to support his gallant efforts by such men as Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, John Jay via a lot of begging and bowing to the French and the Dutch Courts. Of the People, By the people, For the people, All for one and one for all was more how Washington was able to finally defeat the British and become popular hero. When I think about it, Washington got into office a lot like Eisenhower...

    All of the men who signed the Declaration would have been hung--particularly Adams, he was aggravatingly passionate for the cause. Washington did not sign the Declaration. He was no longer a member of congress. He was busy commanding the continental army, which wasn't quite an army, but more a group of colonists who volunteered for the cause. He would have been hung as a prisoner of war--as would have Jefferson--who was nearly caught by the British when they invaded Virginia.

    I say hurrah for Presidents' Day and let's forget about Valentines Day.
    As far as what's on the calendar, only the holidays when the banks and post offices are closed should be noted as a reminder of when not to go.

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    1. Linda: I don't believe Washington was ever a member of Congress. The reason he was honored really had little to do with generalship. He was not the best of generals. His greatest contribution was almost single-handedly keeping the Continental Army together when the money ran out and the soldiers were ready to disband. He convinced them not to give up and that the Revolution could succeed, bringing a new sense of freedom to America.

      When the war ended, he retired, but was overwhelmingly selected to be the new King of America. When asked to head the nation, he indicated he would not do so as a king. If they wanted him to serve, they would have to form a new type of government by the people. The rest, as they say, is history. He alone is the Father of the Nation.

      All our presidents should be honored, and I have no problem with Presidents' Day, but to replace George Washington on a calendar with Groundhog Day is un-American. That was my point.

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  8. Linda: I don't believe Washington was ever a member of Congress. The reason he was honored really had little to do with generalship. He was not the best of generals. His greatest contribution was almost single-handedly keeping the Continental Army together when the money ran out and the soldiers were ready to disband. He convinced them not to give up and that the Revolution could succeed, bringing a new sense of freedom to America.

    When the war ended, he retired, but was overwhelmingly selected to be the new King of America. When asked to head the nation, he indicated he would not do so as a king. If they wanted him to serve, they would have to form a new type of government by the people. The rest, as they say, is history. He alone is the Father of the Nation.

    All our presidents should be honored, and I have no problem with Presidents' Day, but to replace George Washington on a calendar with Groundhog Day is un-American. That was my point.

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  9. I just checked my calendar. It shows Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays as well as Presidents' Day. I always enjoy your history lessons! (And I just enjoyed catching up a bit. I've been busy with some family stuff and I have not been keeping up with my favorite blogs. I hope to get back in my rhythm now.)

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    1. Galen: As it should be! Welcome back.

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  10. Nice post JJ, and how interesting is for a foreigner, like me, to read also all the comments already posted.

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    1. Fanático_Um: What I love about my country is that we can all share different opinions without fear of reprisal.

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  11. As with Robin's household, our calendars are about half and half- which is pretty half-a$$ed if you ask me. I keep thinking of Isaiah 5 20, but maybe I'm just too extreme in my thoughts about this kind of stuff...
    Interesting as always, JJ.

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  12. 25 days and KB and I get Married!

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    1. Whitesnake: OMG! I'm sorry. Congratulations! You lucky dog. Guess who is getting the best of that deal!

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  13. Hey JJ,

    I couldn't agree more. It is sad what our country is becoming. History seems to be a THING of the past.

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    1. Michael: Hey. I like to remain positive, but it is getting harder. I expect things to change. That is the way of Nature. However, I always thought they would change for the better. I'm not seeing it.

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  14. I just checked my calendar which lists Lincoln's birthday, Washington's observed birthday (Presidents' Day), and Washington's real birthday on the 22nd. It's strange that these dates wouldn't appear on all calendars, especially since you have a school calendar.

    Julie

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    1. Julie: It is strange. The bank calendar was the same as the school calendar, and neither had Washington's birthday.

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  17. What? No Grandparents day?? :)

    My personal oppinion is: The powers that be have removed the teaching of things of historical and religious history from our schools thus removing the significance of these events. Once gone, out of sight out of mind. Hang on to your hat my friend, it will be that way for other things as well. Is America dumbing down?

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    1. Ames: Actually, there is a Grandparents Day listed. It is September 8.

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