S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reflections on Presidents Day

My presidents -

Most of us feel that way about the President of the United States. Ours is almost always a personal kind of vote, unlike our voting for other officials.

Yesterday I filled out a "profile" form online. It asked who my favorite celebrities are. Without thinking I said, "ex-presidents." That was a strange response. I'll reflect on that in this post.

Two of our living ex-presidents are actually men I celebrate: Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Of course, not everyone feels that way, including the two men, who don't care for each other very much. But I am not ashamed of my choices. They stand in stark contrast to the current "my president," who was not my choice. Today is not our current president's day for me.

Washington's birthday-February 22, 1732 Coincidentally, today we Americans officially celebrate the birthdays of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It is an official holiday for many workers. It is Presidents Day. How did this designation come to be? A Miami-Dade County school system website delineates the history of the holiday. To quote an exerpt,

In 1968, legislation (HR 15951) was enacted that affected several federal holidays. One of these was Washington's Birthday, the observation of which was shifted to the third Monday in February each year whether or not it fell on the 22nd. This act, which took effect in 1971, was designed to simplify the yearly calendar of holidays and give federal employees some standard three-day weekends in the process. . . This has made the third Monday in February a day for honoring both Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.
In 1943 I started to school as a first-grader. My teacher, Mrs. Irwin, had placed portraits of Washington and Lincoln above the blackboard at the front of the room. It was her way of giving their story "top right position" in my young brain's "newspaper" under the headline, Your Heroes To Be. George Washington, whom we honor for truth-telling, could have been our first Imperial President. He said, "No thanks." Abraham Lincoln cared more about unity than polarization, and is responsible for the survival of our "one nation under God."
In the turbulent 1960's, we were shepherding our 4 elementary school-age children through their first educational years. And I bought a beautiful sepia tone set of all the presidential portraits for our kids' home reference. I still have many of those individual (artists' 8x10's on heavy paper, the ad said) pictures in my cedar chest. As I look back on my lavish $12.95 purchase- a lot of money in 1964- it was, of course, clearly more for me than them. John Kennedy was also a big favorite, and his engraved portrait was beautiful.
Today, we continue this annual holiday. Again we are reminded that U.S. presidents-both heroes and not- make a difference in all our lives. Besides, some folks get the day off. "It's a good thing," as my friend Martha would say.
  1. References: White House list of the presidents-with color portraits.
  2. Animated Election map - Party Shifts in Presidential Elections: 1976-2000. Note that the traditional "red & blue" party designations are switched in this version.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about holidays.

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