There are holidays and there are holidays
Published 11:01 pm Friday, June 11, 2010
In case you’re wondering why the flags are flying this Monday, it is Flag Day. Flag Day is celebrated each June 14 to commemorate the day that the Continental Congress adopted this flag as the official flag of the United States of America in 1777.
American holidays, I have no problems with. I know Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and others by heart. I’ve had problems with the other holidays that the State of Alabama observes.
Every Monday, it is my job to go to the courthouse in Linden and get information for The Blackbelt Gazette. On May 24, I got to the courthouse only to find it locked up. The sign on the door said that it was in observance of something called Confederate Memorial Day.
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I was doing the same thing on June 7 when the workers on the first floor of the courthouse told me that the second floor was closed for Jefferson Davis’s birthday. They said it was a state holiday.
If you want to honor Jefferson Davis, that is anyone’s right, although there are several American presidents whose birthdays go unobserved, several American patriots — Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Samuel Adams — whose birthdays are hardly noticed, even famous Alabamians, like Helen Keller, George Washington Carver and Truman Capote, whose birthdays are just everyday days.
If state employees need a holiday, I think using one of those others would put the state in a better light. Why people can’t observe the deaths of Confederate soldiers on Memorial Day is something I can’t answer.
Yes, I know that Alabama was once a part of the Confederate States of America. I also know that Tulane was once a member of the Southeastern Conference and that Alaska was once owned by Russia.
Flash forward to today, if you will.
I looked around on May 24, and saw no parades for Confederate Memorial Day. No speeches, no observances. If not for the locked courthouse doors, I would not have known it was a holiday at all. Not to say that no one cares about that part of our history, but I just don’t think it’s worth making it a state holiday, and the same goes for Jefferson Davis’s birthday.
If you’re going to have a holiday, make it something that a number of people observe or celebrate or can get behind. While it’s true that Flag Day and Columbus Day are not the most popular or observed of our holidays, there are even fewer people who celebrate the Confederate holidays.
I’m not asking to get rid of the holidays, as there are some people who want to preserve that part of our state’s history. I just don’t think they are as germaine to the 21st Century as they used to be.
By the way, Benjamin Franklin’s birthday is Jan. 17.
David B. Snow is the managing editor of The Demopolis Times.