Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: The Ignored Holiday

America is a nation well known for having an abridged idea of holidays. Wrought by intensive non-stop labor and little time for rest, early immigrants had few designated days on which to celebrate. This trope continues into the 21st century as Americans work constantly and celebrate very little, besides the addition of tradition-based holidays to the national calendar.

Americans have about 6-7 days each year where perhaps a majority takes off work. These include: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And interestingly enough, all of these holidays are celebrated mainly on vague notions concerning values, morality and good will.

Yet Martin Luther King, Jr. Day stands alone, unparalleled by any other day as a designation purely to remember a specific mass movement that revolutionized America. In its uniqueness, this clever holiday has much to offer America. Its importance should emphasize the courageous and upright acts of Dr. King and the vision he and millions of others strove to make reality.

To honor King, and more importantly his ideas of equality, rememberance should be the main goal of this solitary and often ignored national holiday.

Growing up as a younster in a well-insulated all-white private elementary school, Matin Luther King, Jr. Day was presented to students as a foreign, pseudo holiday.
We attented school that day in ordinary fashion, with only the minimalist attempt to observe or even discuss the achievements of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

One year when our lone black pupuil took the day off, our teacher politely instructed us that it was "O.K." as the student deserved it, being black and all. But what poor Mrs. Fox did not realize was its intention as a holiday for all Americans, as a lesson unto our history and the course of our nation.

Most Americans are sorely mistaken when it comes to the third Monday in January. After all, the Civil Rights Movement's whole point was equality for all, rather than the unfettered reign of the brute force of group supremacy.

If Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not celebrated and held in respect, the message screams out clearly that the Civil Rights Movement and its objectives are unimportant. So let this tract be a lesson to all people, particularly employers who need to give the holiday thought, reflection and official observance if it is to have any real meaning at all.

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