How Soon We Forget
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.