This past Friday, I was asked by my boss to chose whether I would be taking off Monday (today) or Monday, 2/18/08. That was all he asked. He didn't remind me which day was which holiday and so I pulled out our family calendar and started comparing which days off were which.
My son has today off from middle school; classes were also closed at my daughter's college. In fact, my daughter also has been given the day off (without pay) from work. Google reminded me instantly that it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And February 18th? That's President's Day.
So what is President's Day anyway? According to www.patriotism.org, President's Day was originally designated as a national holiday to honor the birth of George Washington and has come to be known as Presidents Day, honoring all the tremendous presidents American has had throughout its history.
I sat back in my chair for a moment and considered all of this. After all, my boss needed to know which day I was taking, and I had to coordinate holidays with everyone else in the family.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Well, Martin Luther King Jr. was certainly a great man, no doubt about it. He brought leadership to the Civil Rights movement. He called for true freedom for all Americans, regardless of color. He was a deeply religious man. He cared greatly about moral values, not just "color" value.
"A pivotal figure of the civil rights movement" as www.mlkday.gov puts it. In so many ways he was a good man, certainly a highly intelligent man. Well read, well spoken, influential well beyond his life. But equal to all the Presidents of the nation?
And back to the family calendar. My son goes to middle school on President's Day (though of course the mail doesn't get delivered). My daughter goes to college on President's Day, and she goes back to work as well.
Today, I am at work on MLK day, because for all his good points (and there are many), I can't quite see celebrating the anniversary of the assassination of this one man (who was leaving his mistress when he was shot) over celebrating Washington and Jefferson, Adams and Lincoln, Taft and Hoover, Wilson and Reagan and all the other great men who led this country through good times and bad to become the greatest cause for truth and justice and freedom in the world today.
MLK or President's Day? I choose President's Day.