So George Washington was actually born on February 22nd but for convenience sake we have been celebrating it on a Monday for a number of years now. According to the Federal Government the name of the holiday is still Washington’s Birthday. A bit ironic that the date chosen to celebrate can never fall on his actual birthday but that seems typical for something managed by the government. It’s sort of like not including Martin Luther King Day in Black History Month.
In elementary school the bulletin boards during February were always a combination of hearts, cupids and profiles of Presidents; Washington and Lincoln. A child not paying adequate attention might have deduced that those two were the greatest lovers to have ever lead our nation. By paying attention I did learn that George “chopped down a cherry tree” and when asked about it by his father replied “I can not tell a lie…” and owned up to it. In recent reading I have come to realize that he actually took his small hatchet and damaged the bark which eventually caused the death of the tree. Oddly when I read this I felt like I had been lied to. Perhaps the most frequently repeated story to children regarding the rewards of being honest and the story itself is deceptive.
Abraham Lincoln was Honest Abe. The honesty stories included walking to return a few cents to someone who had not been given correct change and walking to give a customer more tea when he realized the scale he was using was inaccurate. I think it is very possible that he was sweet on a customer and used some of these ploys just to show up at their house at unexpected times. If that were to be the case, that would not reflect honesty at all. When we learned about him walking a great distance to return a borrowed book it served as a reminder to me to be appreciative for living across the street from Linden Hills Library. I knew the pressures of returning books in a timely manner to prevent fines and was fortunate to not have to travel a great distance. I have to think that when a car was named Lincoln it was as a tribute to this president who had all these great walking stories in his background. The great irony being that were he to have had access to a car these stories would not be nearly as impacting. I can’t think of a story about a president doing anything great that involved driving either prior to or during their terms. I know you might be thinking that Ford is a good example but lets face it, the guy was not even elected to office and the automobile company existed before he did.
So car dealerships have big sales on Presidents Day and mattress companies are practically giving their products away! This brings me right back to George and Abe and the confusing messages from classroom bulletin boards. There seems to be no better way to honor our presidents than to throw caution to the wind and buy something, perhaps incur a big debt which seems very emblematic of the office we are honoring. If you are not buying stuff today you can at least celebrate not getting any bills as there is no postal delivery and delaying the inevitable is another very presidential notion. I’ll keep this message brief, after all, this is a national holiday.