Independence Day


Holidays; it’s a funny thing about holidays, the way we’ve come to recognize them, think about them, plan for them.

Just recently was the Memorial Day holiday. We walked around saying “Happy Memorial Day”, or “Have a Great Long Weekend.”  Am I the only one thinking that’s odd?  Memorial Day is set aside to honor the nations War dead.

Coming up fast is Independence Day. That day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our independence from Great Britain.   Now nobody says “Independence Day”; it’s always Happy 4th of July! And, will we recognize the importance? Mostly we’ll bemoan the fact that it’s falling on a Wednesday and screwing up another potential long weekend.

Of course, the argument can be made that “thank goodness we do call it the 4th of July” because otherwise the Congress might turn it into another “Monday” holiday, like Presidents Day, which used to honor George Washington on his birthday, and then involved Abraham Lincoln, and now it’s all the presidents – or Labor Day which was originally celebrated on a Tuesday.

So what’s wrong with Monday holidays? Nothing. I love ‘em!

But what’s wrong with Monday holidays? A lot. Take Veterans Day for example. The holiday originated with the signing of the Armistice ending World War One. At exactly 11:00 in the morning, on the 11th day of the 11th month the hostilities of WW I ended.

Somewhere along the line (in 1954 actually) Congress decided to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all the veterans, of all our wars.  But then, they also decided to include it in the Monday holiday package. Too many people, and so many States opposed that idea and refused to recognize it on a nearby Monday, that President Ford rescinded that notion and set it back to November 11.

I don’t know what all this means. It’s just interesting to me that holidays begin with a specific idea, a specific date, a specific intent and pretty soon end up just being a

SALE, SALE, SALE banner for Macy’s.

Maybe we should all consider what each day is meant to signify and teach its history and importance to our children.  I remember sitting on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom, helping her with homework on the American Civil War.   I said, “This is exciting stuff!” About 10 years later she selected history as her college major; that was exciting stuff too.