I’m just as patriotic as the next girl. I sing the National Anthem at baseball games. I vote in every election. Heck, my daughter was even born on the 4th of July, although I think that was more her decision than mine. However, there’s one thing I just don’t get. Why is school closed for an entire week in honor of the Presidents’ birthdays?
Yes, I know George Washington was the Father of our Country, and Abraham Lincoln’s stand on slavery was the first critical step toward racial equality in this country. But why should we dedicate a whole week of school vacation to these guys and nothing at all for the other forefathers (and foremothers) who’ve made an impact on the old U.S. of A. How about a day for Betsy Ross? The poor woman sewed her little heart out without the benefit of an electric sewing machine to make us the incredible flag we have today. And then there’s Ben Franklin. He got the shock of his life when he discovered electricity. After all those winter power outages we’ve had, we all know where we’d be without his discovery… on the phone calling the wax company to say, “Hey, when are you going to get the candles back on?”
Remember Alexander Graham Bell? I don’t know about you, but I can’t even imagine my life without a cellphone. To me, the telephone is the greatest invention second only to the washing machine.
How about a school vacation day for Elvis Presley, the King of rock n’roll. On second thought, I’m not sure we can make his birthday a national holiday until he’s officially dead. Considering I think I saw him just last week at the 7-11 buying a Big-Gulp, I don’t think we can call that one a done deal.
Personally, I’d like to know who invented Chicken Nuggets. I think that person should have a national holiday in their honor. Basically, it’s the only food my kids will eat… so I owe that person a huge thank you. Of course, my kids eat French Fries, too, but I must assume France gets credit for that creation.
And why should we stop at real people? What about Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth? They have all contributed significantly to my family’s standard of living.
But seriously, it seems silly for my kids to take a week off from school in observance of the birthdays of a few, when they could be in school learning about the contributions of so many. I say, celebrate and educate simultaneously. I think my kids would gain a much greater appreciation of our American history by discussing it in school rather than watching “Family Guy” on TV at home while on break in observance of Washington’s Birthday. One day off, maybe two, out of respect of our founding fathers is fine. But a whole week? That’s just an excuse for a Disneyworld vacation.
My plan this presidents week is take a few moments with the kids to talk about why these people from our past are so important to our present. It might not be as interesting to them as who gets voted off “American Idol,” but perhaps they may come away from the week with a better appreciation of what it means to be American and be free.
Would they prefer to sleep in, eat sugar-coated cereal, and play video games until their eyeballs start to melt? Maybe. Would I prefer to have them in school for the week so I could go to the gym? I suppose. But perhaps the compromise is I give up some of my Spin classes and they give up being couch potatoes for a few hours so we can all understand how we got to where we are in the first place.
Then, maybe, when they grow up, they can really appreciate their freedom to run for president, or invent things, or write a column and complain about the school vacation schedule.