Give us back our favorite presidents’ names
In the gloomy chill of February, we yearn for inspiration. We need, for example, to be reminded of the hardships endured by the American Continental Army at Valley Forge, led by Gen. George Washington.
This is no time to suppress Washington’s name. Yet that is exactly what has been done by persons unknown who deleted the names of Washington and Lincoln, in order to give us a nameless Presidents Day. For shame!
The shoddy motivation for this desecration was apparently to free the date from any attachment to either president’s actual birthday and turn it loose for attachment to whatever February weekend is most likely to appeal to shoppers.
The only disadvantage, apart from commercial inconvenience, with observing the two heroes’ actual birthdays—Feb. 22 for Washington and Feb. 12 for Lincoln—was the former uneven treatment of the two days. The 22nd was usually an official holiday while the 12th was barely noticed. This uneven treatment was unfortunate, but I think there is a solution.
Let us celebrate both presidents’ birthdays together while keeping their names, as in “Washington-Lincoln Day.” If that seems like a lot of syllables, just think of the long-standing celebration of Jefferson-Jackson Day among Democrats. As to when the day should occur, let us alternate between Feb. 12 and Feb. 22. This, of course, will not satisfy department stores, but where were they at the time of Valley Forge and Bull Run?
One national hero whose date of birth has been manipulated like those of Washington and Lincoln is Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on Jan. 15. This year, the 15th came on a Friday, and you would think that actual date, being hitched onto a weekend, would satisfy the hucksters. But no, the actual date was not good enough. Whoever decides these things evidently determined that a Friday would not generate enough big box business.
So Dr. King’s birthday became, this year, not Friday, Jan. 15, his actual anniversary, but instead it became Monday, Jan. 18. Those of us who actually stood before him at the Lincoln Memorial and heard his ringing dream oration are bound to feel that his memory is being used shamelessly for purposes unrelated to what he lived for and died for.