Monday, January 18, 2010
I'm pretty sure this wasn't in his dream...
Let me start by saying I'm a huge fan of Dr. Martin Luther King. Activist of his caliber are so few and far between, special recognition on the timeline of history is especially warranted. Very few people have a personal impact on their country's social/political agenda that's audacious enough to actually implement significant change. Dr. King was one of those people. He helped make the United States better...period.
The federal holiday calendar, however, may be a different matter.
President Bush I signing MLK Day into proclamation with what appears to be a rather nervous smile.
Constitutionally, there are no national holidays because Congress only has the power to create holidays for federal institutions and employees. That's the way it should be too. States and local governments also have the power to create holidays for their employees.
The federal government has established 11 federal holidays (or red letter days) on the calendar. They are: New Years Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., Inauguration Day (when a President is sworn into office), Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. These are the legal names as established by Congress.
Naturally, the political correctness police have muscled influence over the powers that be, and a few of the holidays are known by different names ...Washington's Birthday is commonly called President's Day and in some more local jurisdictions Columbus Day is Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Day...no joke. Don't even get me started about local school districts redefining the Christmas vacation as a Winter Holiday.
But as far as the federal government is concerned, we have a day to commemorate the birth of four distinct people in the United States: Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Christopher Columbus and Jesus Christ.
I don't have an issue with any of the other federal holidays (well...other than I'd like to see Independence Day renamed Schooled King George Day...but I don't see it happening). I'm proud we still honor Good Friday in Tennessee, so you know Christmas isn't a problem for me either. That leaves three holidays that are suspect of such recognition in my book.
First, I do have a problem lumping all the former Presidents onto George Washington's day. As our very first president, Washington deserves his own day. History has been somewhat kind to George, and things sure could have taken a nasty turn on his watch fast, but he weathered the storm with a steady hand on the rudder...and a great nation was born. Never forget history records the powers that be wanted to proclaim Washington a king, but he was strong enough in resolve to remind everyone what true freedom really means. George should have his own day on the federal calendar.
Next, Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1934 at the bidding of the Knights of Columbus to FDR. We're almost certain today Columbus wasn't the first European to reach the New World, and he darn sure didn't discover something that already had people living on it. Yes my name is Tony...but Columbus shouldn't make the cut even as a tribute to Italian-Americans. If an ethnic group deserves individual recognition, and I'm not arguing they do, then Antonio Meucci should be the guy for Italian-Americans...he got shafted over the telephone in a major way.
That brings me to Martin Luther King Jr. and his federal holiday. Now I remember the endless debate over King's birthday being a federal holiday, and the tactics employed by the political correctness police. I was never sold...and I'm still not. It completely contradicts what Dr. King visioned for our country...a society where ethnicity is irrelevant. As great a man as Dr. King was, as pivotal as the Civil Rights movement was in correcting a great injustice and black eye for our country...I can't justify putting him on a level with George Washington, the millions of veterans both still here and passed on, and Jesus Christ.
Reverse that list in order of priority...and you'll have the complete picture of how I feel about the subject matter.