I intended to publish this post last week, but between having a job and preparing for the four-day camping trip we took over the weekend, I didn’t finish writing and proofreading it before it was time to go. And now that Presidents’ Day has come and gone, it may not seem timely.
But hey, the topic is still a hot one for me. And when you consider that today is halfway between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, it actually is timely. So here it is: I have a problem with the whole notion of Presidents’ Day.
When I was a youngster, every calendar in
Back then, we heard little about Presidents’ Day even though it received legislative designation the year I was born.
By the time the 1990’s got into swing, Presidents’ Day was a big deal and the other two passed with little notice. Today, calendars trumpet Presidents’ Day but do not even mention Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. And therein lies the problem: By carelessly lumping all presidents together for a generic third-Monday holiday, and in the process eradicating February’s historic contemplation of Lincoln and Washington, we act as though all presidents are created equal, despite the fact they are not.
Presidents’ Day places the corrupt alongside the honorable, the cowardly alongside the brave, the inept alongside the able – and makes absolutely no distinction between them. Despte being a draft dodger, Bill Clinton is granted the same reverence as some of the men who put their lives on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence. And Richard Nixon is granted the same respect on economic matters as Ronald Reagan, even though the results of his active-government approach to the economy were remarkably inferior to those of Reagan's laissez faire approach. It’s enough to make me nauseous.
One of the greatest problems America faces today is the deterioration of its educational systems, especially when it comes to historical education. Another great problem is people’s reluctance to identify who is good at something and who is bad at it, for fear of offending anyone’s sensibilities. Unfortunately, Presidents’ Day embodies both of those problems. And even more unfortunately, I don’t hear anybody saying so.