Sparky’s Quill: Always on a Monday

The New Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. Photo by Tom Black

The New Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. Photo by Tom Black

It was the third Monday of January and you suddenly remembered that you had no work and had no school. YAY! As if Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t do enough for our country he gave us a holiday! And it’s always a three day weekend!

MLK’s real birthday is January 15, but why do we celebrate his day on the third Monday of every January? Well you can thank the Uniform Monday Holiday act for that one. The federal government loves its three-day weekends and was quite disappointed when their holiday dates landed on the weekend. And they didn’t even get the random Wednesday off.  Bogus.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act Holidays:

1. Washington’s Birthday

Washington’s Birthday is on February 22 and Lincoln’s birthday is on February 12. However, contrary to popular belief, this act did not combine Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays to form Presidents Day. It’s still officially referred to as Washington’s Federal Holiday but everyone just calls it Presidents Day.  Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s are ten days apart and the holiday never falls on either of their birthdays so we decided to give both of them some love. I vote to make it officially Presidents Day.

2. Memorial Day

The Amphitheatre in Arlington National Cemetery where the President uses his Memorial Day off to give his thanks to those who served in the military. This is the view he has during his speech (but with more people). Photo by Tom Black

The Amphitheatre in Arlington National Cemetery where the President uses his Memorial Day off to give his thanks to those who served in the military. This is the view he has during his speech (but with more people). Photo by Tom Black

Memorial Day used to be May 30th every year, but then the Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed it to the last Monday in May. Fun fact: Every Memorial Day I go down to Washington D.C. and see the President speak! It is free and a great patriotic occasion to attend. The President speaks in Arlington National Cemetery and we remember all those who gave their lives for our country. It is a beautiful ceremony in one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever been in.

3. Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus! Everyone’s favorite Italian who used Spain’s money to find the New World! Now because of this completely-by-accident landing in the Caribbean, we Americans get a day off. Columbus day was originally observed on October 12 until it was changed to the second Monday in October. However, I, personally, have yet to have a day off from school on Columbus Day, which I don’t understand to this day. I don’t think many parents mind this, though, since they get a day off while their kid still must to go to school. Ahhh relaxation!

4. Veterans Day

I spend my Memorial Day weekend in Arlington National Cemetary. This is me at my Great-Uncle's (Leonard C. Hrostoski) Grave. Photo courtesy Tom Black

I spend my Memorial Day weekend in Arlington National Cemetary. This is me at my Great-Uncle’s (Leonard C. Hrostoski) Grave. Photo courtesy Tom Black

Wait a minute! Veterans day is always on the 11th of November! This is true. But for a brief stint between 1971 and 1978, Veterans Day was celebrated in the fourth Monday in October. We like to think that veterans went all Shay’s Rebellion on the government to move it back to the set date, but really they just decided it was better fitting and more respectful to bring it back to a set date. If it happens to fall on the weekend, they decided to continue taking the following Monday off. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day. On Veterans Day we remember those who served in the military still among us and give them thanks for their service.  All you veterans reading this, I thank you for your service!

5. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (started in 1971), was passed about 15 years before MLK Day was established (1983).  When this holiday was created they put it under the same guidelines as those in the act and now we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday of January. As we all know King was a leader in the civil rights movement that changed our country. He was a highly intelligent man who deserves recognition for his efforts and accomplishments. Also, it was not until 2000 that this holiday was officially observed in all 50 states! From 1984 until 2000 Virginia ironically shared the MLK holiday with Lee-Jackson Day; a day that celebrated the birthdays of two Confederate Army generals. After 16 years, this odd and absurd combination was finally realized and Lee-Jackson Day was moved to the Friday before. Here’s one more fun fact: in Hiroshima, Japan, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed with equal importance!

So now you know why so many holidays just happen to fall on a Monday. Did you procrastinate on that paper, since you had one extra day to do it?

 

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