February 12 is Lincoln’s birthday. Once upon a time we even observed it as Lincoln’s Birthday. Nowadays Lincoln and Washington have birthdays together so that many of us could indulge in a 3-day weekend.
I liked it better when Lincoln had his own birthday. On the date that he was actually born. And Washington had his own too, the 22nd of February. Although in his case it really was yesterday, the 11th. England dropped 11 days in 1752 when it went from the Julian to the Gregorian calender. So for 21 years Washington celebrated his birthday on February 11, and the rest of his life on the 22nd.
I liked it better because two holidays were always better than one. It made a short month even shorter for anyone in school or on the job. If Lincoln’s birthday landed on a Monday, you could look forward to Washington’s a week from Thursday. And that’s how it was, as regular as the rising Sun.
Until the federal government got so big it decided to consolidate the dates and do some social engineering in the form of weekend reconfiguring.
I don’t think it was fitting and proper to do this to our two greatest presidential icons. And to two of our tallest presidents too. I think it has contributed to reducing them in stature. And have you seen those furniture(?) commercials that have Lincoln and Washington impersonators clowning around? That’s what happens when you mess with their birthdays. They become mascots for a professional baseball team. Or mercenary merchants start to appropriate their images to make a few more bucks.
It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes as I read the Gettysburg Address.