Yesterday’s “holiday” seemed a little trumped-up to me. It’s not that I don’t think Martin Luther King, Jr. deserves to be honored, it’s just that I don’t think he was any more singularly important than a few dozen other people in our history who have gone sadly under-recognized for their contributions, regardless of “color.”
If Americans truly believe “all men are created equal,” then why does MLK get a special holiday all to himself when we took away the individual birthdays of Washington and Lincoln and lumped them into the innocuous “Presidents’ Day?”
Following that line of thinking, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a less specific “Black American’s Day” in February? After all, February has been nationally recognized as “Black History Month” since 1976.
Oh, that’s right—Presidents’ Day is already in February.
So do we get MLK Day on the third Monday in January simply because his birthday was conveniently located in a month without holidays? Is it because some wise guy in “the other Washington” decided that was as good a reason as any for a day off in the dreary part of winter?
If that’s the case, I’d be quite happy to swap out our heroes and celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s January 17th birthday with genuine gusto. We could refer to it as “B(NMN)F Day,” as Franklin had no middle name. Nevertheless, he was true “Renaissance Man”— a polymath of gigantic proportions.
A leading author, printer, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, statesman, politician, diplomat and abolitionist, Franklin invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, the glass armonica (look this one up, you’ll be surprised!) and the flexible urinary catheter. I am willing to forgive the fact that he was also involved with the establishment of the now hopelessly-flawed electoral college and that he advocated making the wild turkey our national bird.
Although he doesn’t (currently) get his own holiday, at least Franklin is honored by having his picture on the hundred-dollar bill; he and Hamilton are the only non-presidents to have their likenesses on US paper money. (Franklin was born in England, and therefore ineligible to be president; Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury.)
So for my part, I think I’ll make it a habit to celebrate Ben’s birthday every time I handle a C-note—in January, or otherwise.