from: Hanging off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore
by: Tina Nichols Coury
illustrated by: Sally Wern Comport
Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012
Remember that trip out West where I lost track of the time zones and saw that 360 degree sunset at 10:30 p.m.? Well, on that same trip my breath stopped as we rounded a corner in the Black Hills of South Dakota and came face to faces with the mountain heads, four majestic sculptures carved into Mount Rushmore.
Yesterday was Presidents’ Day. How could anyone not know that what with all the car sales and furniture sales and other President’s Day sales. And many of us had a day off of work and school and we didn’t get mail and the library was closed. So.
Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was February 12 and George Washington’s is coming up tomorrow. So why not celebrate both with a designated Monday holiday half-way between?
Well that’s not how it happened. As a matter of fact, the official national holiday does not share Washington’s Birthday with anyone else. The Uniform Monday Holiday Law, passed in 1971 accidently(?) made sure it would never be celebrated on his actual birthday. The latest day in the month the third Monday can fall is the twenty-first.
When the Uniform Monday Holiday Law was being debated,
"It was the collective judgment of the Committee on the Judiciary," stated Mr. William Moore McCulloch (R-Ohio) [in 1968] "that this [naming the day "President's Day"]would be unwise. Certainly, not all Presidents are held in the same high esteem as the Father of our Country. There are many who are not inclined to pay their respects to certain Presidents. Moreover, it is probable that the members of one political party would not relish honoring a President from the other political party whether he was in office, no matter how outstanding history may find his leadership."
Hmmm. Not all Presidents are held in the same high esteem as the Father of our Country. Well, that’s still as true today as it was 1968, when Richard Nixon was president. Or 1971. But I’ve said enough about that for a little while.
To be sure, lots of states use the more inclusive term “President’s Day.” You can find a debate about where to place the apostrophe by looking up the “origin of President’s Day” in any search engine.
I didn’t shop on Washington’s Birthday. I watched a good bit of CNN, I gathered my thoughts together for this post, and I thanked my lucky stars that I’m allowed to speak my mind, that my grandchildren go to good schools, and I get along with my neighbors.
I’m pretty sure those good things will last a while. But I still worry.
Happy Birthday, George!