The Strange American Custom of Holiday Observance

The Strange American Custom of Holiday Observance

Today is not Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday. The anniversary of his birth came, this year, last Wednesday. As you can see above, that’s January 15. However, it’s being observed today — the date circled above — to give people a three-day weekend.

That’s related to something else, apart from the sheer inaccuracy of moving a date on the calendar, that bugs me about “MLK Day,” as it is often called. It’s essentially the same thing that bothers me about Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day. To honor people we respect and admire for their hard work — for civil rights, defending the nation in battle, or anything else — what do we often do, as a nation? We close schools, many businesses, the stock market, mail service, etc., all to give as many people as possible a day without work. How does a day off, of all things, honor the hard work of anyone?

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