Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day

I’ve been doing some preliminary research into buying a new mattress. But mattresses, good ones, don’t come cheap, especially the fancy-schmancy, pillow-top models like the ones they use in fancy-schmancy hotels, so we’ll have to forego those and just settle for a good, new mattress. On sale.

Of course the sales started last week, it being President’s Day and all, and as I checked out the online flyers and specials, it got me thinking: I remember when we celebrated Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday separately. (Of course, I remember when Kurt Russell was a child star.)

But maybe because of all the turmoil and tumult going on in the Middle East, (and Wisconsin for that matter), I was reminded of Washington’s birthday and why we used to celebrate it as its own holiday. (For the whole story of Presidents Day go to It’s unfortunate that, over time Washington, Lincoln and other remarkable historical figures have become remote, ossified, less-than-human figures, rather like the animatronic characters at a Disney theme park, suitable only for decorating money, illustrating sale coupons, and being spoofed in commercials and on the internet. (To see my own participation in such buffoonery go here.) But these were real people who, in many cases, risked everything they had including, famously, “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”. It was no joke. They knew that, as Ben Franklin only partly jested, they would either hang together in signing the Declaration of Independence, or they would hang separately.

And it’s worth remembering that freedom, real freedom, is in very short supply in the world today. There are thousands and thousands of people demonstrating in Madison, Wisconsin. They’re covered in the media, their faces are shown and, while they may be tired or fed up and angry, they’re not being mowed down by military forces as they are in, for example, Libya, where upwards of 1,000 people have been murdered by Qaddafi’s forces, some shot from low-flying jets. Just for protesting their government.

We’re very, very fortunate here in these United States, whatever we may think of whoever’s in the White House (or the State House or any other House) at any given moment. We’d do well to remember how lucky.

Now, about that mattress…

1 comment:

  1. Good luck on your mattress. For an interesting perspective on the presidents...visit NPR.ORG and check out 'Tell Me More'. Today the show talked about African Americans in the White House and their relationship with the Presidents. According to the historians presented on the show, George Washington actually broke U.S. law to protect his traficking in the slave trade. Interesting enough, 1/4 of all U.S. presidents owned and sold African slaves.