National holidays re-thought
National (or federal) holidays are those celebrations of people and events that are supposed to have a common appreciation in the culture. The emphasis is on COMMON appreciation. National holidays come into consideration as new people and events occur – or when we might re-evaluate the old.
National holidays differ from state or local holidays. The best way to know the difference is to see if the normal mail is being delivered – or your kids are not in school.
Many may be surprised to learn that there are only eleven federal holidays – (chronologically: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day [officially Washington Birthday], Memorial Day, Juneteenth National Independence day (new), Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) — and they are becoming more controversial, especially among those interested in re-writing American History.
We have recently seen how controversial Columbus Day has become. He is credited with discovering the New World – although he did not specifically land on what would become American soil. It is likely that others – including the Scandinavians, the Chinese, and possibly the Samoans – actually set foot on North America in advance of Columbus & Co.
But it can be said that Columbus discovered what became the modern America – North, South, and Central. If Leif Ericson was here first – or the Chinese – they left nothing discernible in their wake. No convincing evidence that they were here. That seems to be sufficient reason to celebrate Columbus as the discoverer of the existing New World.
Those on the left not only want to eradicate the Columbus Day holiday, they want it supplanted with what they dub Indigenous Peoples Day. I can understand the argument about creating a special day for the earliest residents, but not at the expense of Columbus Day. There is no reason to pick a fight with the fans of Columbus Day. If there is sufficient cultural and political interest, pick another day – rather than getting it into a woke vs unwoke feud.
We saw an example of how this unnecessary conflict influenced the Defense Department. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a statement honoring the non-existent Indigenous Peoples Day over Columbus Day – a wannabe national holiday over an official national holiday. That is just wrong.
Many folks may not be aware that Christmas is not only a Christian holy day but also an official national holiday. That bothers those who may not celebrate Christmas – folks of other religious backgrounds and especially those without any.
While Christmas remains an official national holiday, the secular forces on the left are doing everything possible de-Christianize is. No more nativity scenes on public property. Stores now revert to non-religious Christmas displays. In fact, many retail establishments will decorate with religious symbols of Hannukah while limiting Christmas to Santa Clause and a bunch of elves.
As an inclusive guy, I like to see other religions celebrated as part of cultural sharing – just no reason to relegate Christmas to an exclusively secular event. It seems strange that the National Holiday specifically devoted to the birth of Christ should have the central purpose completely eradicated. Even the real St. Nicholas has been morphed into a jolly fat guy in a red suit flying through the sky behind a team of super-power reindeer.
In case you are not familiar with that particular national holiday, you will better know it as the Fourth of July. Like most Americans, I too often fall into the trap of calling it the Fourth of July – even though a day on the calendar is not the reason for the observation.
In my earlier days, it was mostly called Independence Day. We should probably get back to that. It should be more than parades and picnics. Maybe an occasion for some civic education.
Among the worst examples of compromising on national holidays was the merging of Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays on Presidents’ Day. I can think of no more abomination of history than to place Lincoln and Washington on the same plane as such lackluster Presidents as James Buchanan and Jimmy Carter or such reprobates as Woodrow Wilson.
I am all for giving both Lincoln and Washington their own national holidays. (Perhaps I can get support from the folks on the left if they suddenly realize that the current one-size-fits-all holiday includes Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.)
Martin Luther King Day
I was an early proponent of establishing a day in honor of the Dr. King. The issue was first endorsed by Nixon not long after the assassination of the civil rights leader.
At the time, there was insufficient support in the Democrat-controlled Congress. The holiday honor was eventually signed into law by President Reagan. That is fitting when you consider that King was known to vote Republican, with the exception of the 1964 candidacy of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Ironically, with the elimination of Lincoln and Washington, King is the only individual American with a holiday of his own.
Juneteenth National Holiday
MLK Day is not the only national holiday devoted to the black community. We now have Juneteenth.
It is a more obscure – but extremely important – moment in American history. It is the day slavery was officially stamped out in America. It is a day that I recommend every local GOP organization celebrate since it was the Republican Party that ended slavery.
Ironically, since blacks vote for Democrats overwhelmingly, the holiday is inappropriately viewed as more of a celebration of the left-wing Democrats – the very party that fought a Civil War to preserve slavery.
The idea of honoring the contributions of the millions of American workers – who have been the primary force behind the success of the American economy – is certainly worthy.
But just as the Department of Labor does not represent the interests of most workers – but is really the Department of (Organized) Labor, which represents less than 8 percent of all American workers – the holiday is largely celebrated as a tribute to unionized workers.
Memorial Day and Veterans Day
It is certainly appropriate that we honor those who served and died in the armed forces of the United States. The distinction is that Veterans Day honors all those who served, while Memorial Day pays homage to those who died in service to the country. Having lost a grandson in Afghanistan, Memorial Day has taken on a very special meaning.
Thanksgiving comes to us as an Americanized harvest celebration that has a history back to the Pagans. Regardless, it is good to have a day to think about all the blessings we enjoy as Americans.
New Year’s Day
And then there is the continuation of another ancient celebration – the passage of one year to another. The actual holiday on January 1st, however, is not the occasion of the celebrating – or we would call it National Hangover Day.
If there is a common thread to all these national holidays is that we basically celebrate them as a day off from work and a chance to eat and drink. We do very little to remind ourselves – and teach our children – the true significance of these and other holidays. And that is a shame.
As an afterthought, I have always thought that we might add Immigrant Day to the national holiday list. We are proudly a nation of immigrants – unique among the world of nations.
America has been enriched and empowered by the contributions of immigrants at every level and in every profession. Our current national controversy over legal and illegal migration should not distract our attention from the enormous contributions of generations of legal immigrants. Just a thought.
So, there ‘tis.