By the time you read this, my friends, the warm memories of another Presidents’ Day will be receding, but today we pay homage, blissfully and reverently engaged, somewhere between celebration and commemoration.
Our discussion will be brief today, for duty calls. There is a sale, multiple sales, actually, to which we must attend in order to continue the tradition of observing holidays via consumption. It seems fitting, actually, for what finer salesmen have ever hawked their wares than the long line of hucksters, peddlers and costermongers that have occupied the White House?
Of course some of us may also be remembering George Washington and the birthday of the man who could have been king but set aside personal ambition for the good of the nation. He was a complicated man, flawed, but a man of integrity and substance even when viewed through the modern lens of retroactive social justice.
With the signing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, however, we set aside history in favor of three day weekends, and bundled our celebration of all presidents into one extended opportunity for taking advantage of sales and discounts. The banks are closed today, along with federal offices and many businesses across the land. Congress will also be resting from their labors, for about two weeks, taking a much needed break from campaigning and making resolutions.
Meanwhile, soldiers at 800 military bases in 70 countries around the world will still be on duty, safeguarding our ability to shop without interruption. Many, still stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, continue to be in harm’s way as we celebrate the people who put them there. Law enforcement personnel, firemen, EMT’s and nurses will not be taking the day off.
Come to think of it, perhaps this year we should be more mindful of those people than we are of our long line of pompous potentates. After all, it takes skill, training and a willingness to sacrifice to do those jobs, but anyone can be president.