I say, “Don’t you mean Honest Abe Lincoln’s Birthday where you cut out silhouettes of his face and make log cabins with pretzels and read stories about walking 5 miles to return a book and about abolishing slavery?”
And he says, “No. President’s Day.”
And I say, “Don’t you mean His Excellency, President George Washington’s birthday where you cut out silhouettes of his face and make cherry tarts and read stories about chopping down trees and telling the truth and about crossing the Deleware with his freezing soldiers?”
And he says, “No. President’s Day.”
And I say, “Who’s birthday is that?”
And he grins and says, “Who cares? We get a day off of school.”
And my brain says….tick-tick-tick—–
It’s a good thing he was kidding.
Switching a 17-year-old to home school could really put a chink in his chain.
Note: The characters in this story are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
~ Veterans Day, which used to be known as Armistice Day is a national holiday that falls on November 11, and is set aside as a day to honor combat veterans who fought and died for their country.”
I’ve never known much about this particular holiday because it doesn’t seem like people pay much attention to it. There are flags on many of the houses and and businesses in town-but since the kids aren’t out of school–even that doesn’t normally get my attention. It’s always just been one of those random holidays that I mixed up with the other ones– Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day.
So after some guilt induced research on the subject I learned that Veteran’s Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Ok, fine…well done…the ending of a terrible war. But here’s the part that surprised me.
In 1938, Congress passed a bill that each November 11 “shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and …hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.
“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
“Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”
— The XIVth Dalai Lama
But even those great words from good people left me feeling very hushed and small on a loud, angry planet. I want to help–I do. So we recycle, and conserve energy, and carpool, grow a garden, and try to compose, and make hats for struggling babies, and filter our water, and hand make whatever we can…I could go on and on.
But world peace? That’s a big one.
Then I found a few other words that shrunk the world back to a smaller, more manageable size for me. One that helps me feel strong and settled and able to make a difference again. This one:
“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”
As an eight year old, Election Day enthralled me so much I couldn’t go to bed. The front room couch eventually called my name, but that didn’t stop me from waking up every hour or so to see how the polls were doing, long after the house was silent. The numbers captivated my attention. Knowing me, I probably wrote all the stats down somewhere. I was (am?) weird like that. I saw the final moments before we knew who our new president was going to be. The unofficial declaration of the winner of the race. The overwhelming feeling of so much happening in such a short amount of time.
I remember what happened months after that election, when I saw an inauguration for the first time. I knew that I was watching an historic event. I realized what it meant to be an American. To stand united. To be a part in something bigger than myself. To support our leaders, whoever we–as a country–choose them to be. True it would be another decade before I could participate with my own check mark, but that didn’t matter. I knew the decisions of others had a large impact on me then.
Years later I cannot help but feel that same pull to the polls. I still remember my duty as an American citizen. I voted. As a history student I know too much of the consequences of indifference to avoid casting a ballot.
If you have not voted, please do. We need every opinion. They held my voting station in a library of a nearby elementary school. “How appropriate,” I thought as I saw the pictures of the presidents hanging in a row. While it was not the school I went to as a child, it reminded me of what I know. It reminded me of how I will behave regardless of the outcome. After all we pledge that we are one nation, under God, which means that we can also stand indivisible as the United States of America.
The only way to do that though is to stand, and–in today’s case–vote.