I really enjoy federal holidays, don’t you? Especially when they are on a Monday.
I really enjoy federal holidays, don’t you? Especially when they are on a Monday. You know, the ones that have titles such as “Meaningful Historical Event or Person” Day. I honestly don’t care which one, as long as I get that extra day added to my weekend so I can party a little (or a lot) harder, sleep in and really just bask in the freedom of living in the United States. Didn’t we just have one of those? I don’t remember which one…something Lutheran King Day? It really doesn’t matter to me; I’m not Lutheran. I didn’t have to go to class and that’s all I care about!
Okay, before anyone starts writing letters to the editor and leaving hate comments online, let me make it clear that I’m kidding. The point I am making, however, is not humorous.
Of course I knew that Monday, Jan. 17, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was an integral leader in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and this is the day set aside to collectively honor his legacy of nonviolent social change for African Americans. Of course, I think this vital and noteworthy American should be remembered by the nation. Go Dr. King!
Actually, King’s birthday was Jan. 18, but is observed on the third Monday of January because we celebrate most federal holidays on a Monday so people can have a long weekend to celebrate—the holiday. Other Uniform Monday Federal Holidays—yep, that is the official government term—include Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and others. While this seems very American and respectful of various cultures and people of different backgrounds, there is a problem. It’s just not very inclusive. In fact, it’s uniform.
The problem is, unless the said holiday is personally meaningful, the significance of commemorating it typically seems distorted and even lost when the national traditions of doing so aren’t any different than celebrating another similar holiday (have a long weekend, for no apparent reason). Not to mention being a tad prejudice. Let me expound.
You want to know what this (admittedly white) girl did for Martin Luther King Jr. Day? I wrote this article, and caught up on homework. Granted, I could have gone to a seminar or some kind of rally, and really, I should have. Why didn’t I? Because it doesn’t feel like a holiday and I forgot about it until it was too late. Ouch! Unfortunately, it’s kind of true…and we should all be furious.
Don’t just give me some random Monday off of work and school because it’s convenient for you to have a barbecue or to go skiing, I want the real thing! Lets disrupt the order of society, let’s make note of the event, let’s talk about it for weeks in advance! It should feel like Christmas.
Sure, the current form of national observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and other Uniform Monday Federal Holidays creates the opportunity for individuals and groups to formally “do something” meaningful for their own beliefs and experiences. Therein lies the issue. We don’t celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a nation; we celebrate it in segregation. The same can be said of all of the Uniform Monday Holidays. You can recognize the holiday or not, but you still get a long weekend and you don’t have to be bombarded by social expectations, as you are at Christmas or New Year’s. Think about it.
Some will say that this system is better than nothing, but I’m not so sure. It’s just a consolation holiday. “Sorry about the whole civil rights thing,” or “Thanks for the war.” “Here’s a completely unrelated day, do as you will. We don’t care.” This is not true national celebration or honor.
Again, we should all be furious. This is everyone’s history, and should be recognized as such.