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Diminishing the Value of a Holiday

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
The idea of a holiday, as I understand it, is to honor a person or group or perhaps an event, and to serve as a cause for reflection on what their ideals mean to us. We've recognized our soldiers (Veteran's Day), workers (Labor Day), the founding of our nation on Independence Day, and individuals such as Washington, Lincoln and Martin Luther King.

Unfortunately, it does not seem that we take our holidays seriously. Many of us are at work today. How many Americans will take part in events to commemorate Dr. King? Most of our holidays have become shopping events. We have "Sizzling Summers Sales!" on Memorial Day and "Back to School Blow-outs!" on Labor Day. I wonder how long before we have the Martin Luther King Day White Sale (tacky, I know, but it makes a point).

I think I am going to take the afternoon off.
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
Back in the day, retailers used to have "Community Shopping Days" in which they would have those "blowout sales" and such. Now, they've been replaced with either "Sidewalk Sales" or sales centered around holidays that you've mentioned. I suppose they try to capture those people who are "fortunate" to have the day off.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
It's sad, Wisconsin does commemorate MLK day, but it's not much more than a footnote in the papers anymore. It seems no one is given a holiday - in the sense of a day off to reflect - for it.

I blame the ACLU. They took away our half-day off for Good Friday. Now it's called "Spring Holiday" in our labor contracts.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
29
You raise a good point... as an American, maybe I should take the afternoon off, too. ;)

But seriously... I don't think I've ever done more on a holiday than maybe reflect a little and/or go to a parade (depending on what holiday it is). I don't think I've ever done anything for things like president's day.

I am pretty impressed so far with Canadians' verve when it comes to honouring their veterans. Both the US and Canada have Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day on the same day in November... the tradition up here is to wear a poppy as a remembrance for veterans/fallen soldiers. The weekend before Remembrance Day I went to the West Edmonton Mall, and I was floored by the number of people wearing poppies... probably hovering around 85%. I haven't seen that much participation in celebrating a holiday outside of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day in elementary school.
 

jmf

Cyburbian
Messages
594
Points
17
Poppies

Poppies have always been a big thing here for Remembrance Day but the last two years were HUGE. Over 15 million sold in 2001 and 17 million in 2002, and there are only 30 million people. The legion attributes the increasing sales to Sept 11th and increasing threat of war and, this year, on the 4 Canadians who were killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

This was the first year in a few that I made it to our local service at the cenotaph and it was packed. It is amazing to listen to the 2 minutes of silence and watch the crowd from small children to veterens of WW2.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
If it weren't for the unions, gov't in PA would not have the holiday any more. I don't mind not having off from work, what are you going to do. Things that get me annoyed are Veterans Day holidays though.

Most Veterans are at work while the majority of those given the day off have never served a day in their life.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,333
Points
53
I'm not that old, but I remember celebrating holidays on the traditional day of the holiday, rather than the first Monday afterwards (unless that holiday fell on a weekend). Makes you think of the reason for the holiday, more so than "what am I going to do for this three day weekend?"

When I went to Catholic elementary school, I remember taking national holidays for granted, because there was always some saint's day that we were taking off for every few weeks. All the Catholic and civil holidays blended into a mental mush; Immaculate Conception Day, Assumption Day, First Day of Advent, Ash Wednesday (HUGE in Buffalo; a full or half-day in some WNY municipalities), Lent, Pentecost Day, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Virgin Mary Day, St. Joseph's Day, St. Anthony's Day, St. Patrick's Day, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day ... you lost track of what you were taking off for. Supposedly, Catholic schools didn't close for blizzards that would shut down other schools, only because they could barely afford more down days. I could only imagine that some New Englanders must fee feel, with Patriot's Day, Evacuation Day, First Shot of the Revolutionary War Day, Kennedy's Birthday, Samuel Adam's Birthday, WGBH Pledge Drive Day, and all the other odd colonial holidays.

I'm not anti-holiday, but I think we're beginning to take their meaning for granted. President's Day used to be Washington's Birthday, but now it's reduced to Zero-Down-Zero-Interest-For-Six-Months Day.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
MLK day seemed pretty big here in the capital region. despite a wind chill of -20, there was a pretty big parade/rally in Schenectady yesterday.

As for the Catholic schools, here it seems they're the first to close for a snow day, because they've got kids coming in from a 50 mile radius.
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
5,803
Points
29
Catholic schools here pretty much follow the local public schools' schedules and emergency closings. They don't get any religious holidays off, except for Christmas and Easter/Good Friday. Our kids only get to Mass during school once a month.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,333
Points
53
kms said:
Catholic schools here pretty much follow the local public schools' schedules and emergency closings. They don't get any religious holidays off, except for Christmas and Easter/Good Friday.
That's strange, especially for western PA. Considering Erie's demographics, do Erie schools even have St. Joe's Day off?

Remember. Buffalo is to Catholicism as Salt Lake City is to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Hardcore ...
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
nerudite said:
the tradition up here is to wear a poppy as a remembrance for veterans/fallen soldiers.
In Flanders Field
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:
Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.
 
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