Thoughts to pave the way
I have a grand idea to combine Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and the Super Bowl into one weekend. First, some history.
We know when Martin Lutheran King, Jr., was born—January 15—but we like our three-day weekends, so we set our marking of it on the third Monday in January. It wasn’t hard for us to do this, since we long ago moved George Washington’s birthday (February 22) to the third Monday in February, and tossed in Abraham Lincoln (February 12) to create Presidents’ Day and a three-day-weekend holiday.
It took years of discussion to create these holidays and their dates. We have begun the process with discussion regarding Halloween.
Halloween is tied to a church festival—All Saints Day is November 1, and Halloween is derived from All Hallows’ Eve—yet the way we use October 31 has nothing to do with November 1. So, the idea has been floated that we permanently move Halloween to the final Saturday in October. That would get it off a weekday evening, which is a school night for trick-or-treating-aged kids.
I think this is a no-brainer. There is nothing sacred about October 31 in how we mark the day. Let’s move it. We moved Washington, Lincoln, and MLK Jr. We survived just fine.
Since we survived moving those three, let’s do it again, and let’s do it up right.
Presidents Day, MLK Jr Day, and the Super Bowl
Since the Super Bowl became huge and was gradually moved to the evening—in the Eastern Time Zone, it isn’t done before 10:00 p.m.—plenty of folks take Monday off or begin the workday groggy and unproductive. For years, many have suggested we create a holiday of the day after the Super Bowl—a National Day of Recovery, if you will.
I have a bigger idea, and a better plan.
Presidents’ Day and MLK Jr Day are federal holidays. Some other folks get them off—I’m never sure whether our trash will be picked up or the kids will be in school—it’s quite a mishmash of who does or doesn’t have the day off.
We long ago (1971) combined Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, and we survived that quite fine, thank you. And I don’t hear anyone feeling guilty about sliding MLK’s birthday around to suit our three-day-weekend desires. Worse, Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays have almost become an afterthought, a day on which mattresses are put on sale and not much else.
We still have events to properly mark MLK Jr’s birthday, and I believe this is important. And it certainly is not unimportant to reflect on what made Washington and Lincoln significant to us. Well, how about the accomplishments of some of our other presidents? And let’s not forget people such as the women who worked for the right to vote, and many other Americans who have been vital to our nation’s good?
Could we not honor all of them in a unique way, and be a stronger nation for it?
And could we do all of this and wrap it around the Super Bowl? You bet, we could.
It would be a four-day weekend—Friday through Monday—the first weekend in February, which is conveniently between MLK Jr Day and Presidents’ Day, and when the Super Bowl is played.
It would be holiday that is kept across the board—by the government and schools and businesses. Folks would get Friday and Monday off, the way they get Thanksgiving.
It would be called United Stand Americans (USA) Weekend.
Friday and Saturday would be used to mark things associated with Washington, Lincoln, and MLK Jr. The days would be used for parades, rallies, and speeches. We would do well to expand our remembrances, even deciding on a focus for each year. One year could be civil rights or the privileges of voting. We could branch out to American innovations and advancements in medicine, science, education, the arts, and industry. Truly, any person, group of people, or area of importance to our way of life in the USA could be highlighted as we remember those who pioneered that area and the blessings we all enjoy because of them.
In the days leading up to the weekend, our schools could concentrate on the year’s theme, providing our children of all ages specific insights they might not otherwise have ever been taught … and, perhaps, inspiring some of them in what to do with their lives.
On Sunday, we would do our thing with our Super Bowl festivities. Whether or not you’re into the game, you have this four-day weekend to plan something that’s special, and you wouldn’t need to travel on Sunday and cut short the weekend.
Super Bowl revelers wouldn’t have to take a personal day on Monday … or lie about why they stayed home because they are, ahem, under the weather.
By my suggesting we can highlight various people and milestones, I don’t mean to lessen observing the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. We can and should continue to note and relish his efforts and our benefits. Sadly, though, I fear that eventually it will happen as has occurred with our former leaders and Presidents’ Days: after my generation has passed away, which lived during MLK Jr’s lifetime, his day could become nothing more than another winter day off, and another opportunity for some area of business to corner their market with an annual sale.
We can hold tighter to MLK Jr. Day, restore dignity to Presidents’ Day, and create a USA-sized holiday for our nation by book-ending these days with the Super Bowl.
Knowing it will take years to create enough energy to ignite a fire under this, I hold the match before you.
Will you strike it?