Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and it is a national holiday. Public employees have it off while many private employees do not.
This is a “floating” holiday for many, like Veterans Day has also become. I don’t know how you “float” celebration of MLK Jr. or Veterans or what he or they have done for this nation. A holiday is just that, to acknowledge on a national level some part of our history and what makes us who we are.
Is national pride and history a choice? It is if we allow it be swept under the rug.
President’s Day is a combination of what used to be two separate holidays: Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s – two obviously important leaders. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. Lincoln had to make a crucial decision about slavery that was tearing the nation apart and Washington fought against all odds, though the military was outgunned by the British and had little money. After winning and there being a power vacuum, several generals encouraged Washington to become king. He said no, this is to be a republic and he handed back the power after the war had ended. He fought for a new world. Washington put his life and career on the line as did many soldiers who fought barefoot and without pay.
We used to have both days off. We honored them. We celebrated them. Now no one gets President’s Day off(except for school kids), and no one pays it as much mind. All presidents, good and bad, should not be lumped into this day. These two days, their birthdays, were to honor these two great Americans.
And now today, a day of divisiveness, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. Many companies let you float the time as if it’s just some meaningless day to go to the DMV, and yet the DMV is closed. By making this a floating paid day off, or pto, we diminish the importance of this man and the absolute searing indignation endured during the civil rights period and the hundreds of years leading up to it. Now I can float it and go to the dentist on a later date, not caring or even noticing it has come at all.
How do African-Americans, how do we as a people, with our history of slavery, not stop and acknowledge with reflections upon our past? If we are working a full day, it is hard to. By reducing the meaning of these national holidays we reduce our heritage and integrity by brushing them under the rug.
The leaders who formed this nation were rebels themselves, challenging the old ways through bloodshed and sacrifice to forge new ones. All of these great men deserve their day of respect and acknowledgement.
And we damn well better pay attention soon. Not only public workers but ALL WORKERS!
We are Americans and it’s time we started acting like it again. We cannot move forward from the past by hiding and allowing big business to dictate what and who we honor, how and when.