Monday, February 15, 2010

Whose day?

I love a three-day weekend. There's something so freeing about having Sunday night be a carefree time, rather than a time spent getting ready for the coming week. Last night, my husband and middle son made a batch of waffles--at 10:30 P.M. They had such a good time that I didn't even mind the big mess they made in the kitchen.

All things considered, I think the celebration of Federal holidays on Mondays is a good idea. It's nice to have a holiday linked to a weekend, and the particular date of the thing we're celebrating is usually not so important as the fact that we're celebrating it. Independence Day and Veterans Day are notable exceptions: July 4 and November 11 were highly significant dates in our country's history.

But with February's holiday, I wonder if the reason for the holiday has become lost. When I was a little kid, everyone knew that February 22 was George Washington's birthday, just like everyone knew that February 12 was Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Only Washington's birthday made the cut to become a "real" holiday, but both dates were considered important. Now I think that the generic "Presidents Day" serves to honor the office of the presidency, which is fine--the office is a big a deal, after all. But I wonder if maybe we've lost something in not paying some particular respect to Washington.

George Washington was human, with many faults and foibles. But he was a courageous man living in a time that called for courage. He was a leader of leaders, and he worked hard to take this country from an upstart group of rebellious colonies to one nation, with a government unlike any other. The American experiment was an important one, and he stood at the helm during a critical time.
Sometimes I fear that, in our rush to be informed global citizens, we sometimes neglect reflecting upon what made this country of ours a special place. Blind nationalism isn't the goal; it's healthy for us to recognize our faults and to work to correct them. But sometimes I sense a distinct anti-Americanism among many U.S. citizens. I can't help but think that that attitude results from ignorance. Sadly, much of what is taught as U.S. history is actually revisionist history. The fact is that U.S. history is peppered with things that are unfortunate, ill-advised, and sometimes downright wrong. But it's also laced with honor and ideals, many of which are embodied in the person of George Washington.

So today I salute the Father of Our Country: an imperfect but remarkable man who gave sacrificially to help establish an imperfect but remarkable nation. I cannot tell a lie: I'd love to see a little flag-flying in his honor.

What do y'all think?


Kristi said...

I agree very much, Richella. I think there is a lot of anti-nationalism, but I also think there is probably en equal share of American-supremacy also. I believe a 'healthy' attitude is somewhere in the middle: loving our country for its original ideals and values, but also admitting our faults and having an open mind to (attempt to) objectively evaluate other countries and value their assets as well. My birthplace was obviously completely out of my control, as is everyone else's. :) Although, I have to admit that while I am ashamed of some of our history, I still count myself as very blessed to have been born here. I thank God for our country and ask Him to bring its leaders to Himself. God bless the USA. And God bless you today, Richella!

Dawn said...

i think you are one smart girl! it feels funny to have president's day so early... but here it is. what upsets me is that celebrating it seems negoticiable (i know i spelled that wrong!)some schools open, some closed. a few years ago our school had to make up a hurricane day and they scheduled school on president's day. i was so mad! so we boycotted :)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Well said!!!! I can't add anything to your words. :)

The Scooper said...

Bravo, Richella, Bravo!!! I wholeheartedly concur with everything you wrote. My former-history-professor self is just bursting to say so much here. You make an interesting point I'd never considered: ignorance does indeed breed a lack of respect and appreciation {I think.} Most have no idea of the courage and faith it took to forge a new nation founded upon the "revolutionary" ideas of self-determination and independence. Imperfect? Yes. Limited equality? Absolutely. But there is so much worth embracing and celebrating! I think we've lost sight of that.

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