This librarian, at least, tried to devote a few moments of the Presidents Day holiday in prayerful meditation, thanking Divine Providence for sending us James Buchanan, Warren Gamaliel Harding, James Knox Polk, and Andrew Johnson. But thoughts kept wandering. One couldn’t help feeling just a touch of irritation with whoever it was that thought it would be a great idea to roll the birthdays of the two presidents everybody agrees were ace fellows (Washington and Lincoln. How quickly one forgets) into one generic event, the primary benefit of which was to give America’s civil servants yet another guaranteed long weekend. And then one wondered if classrooms no longer cut out construction paper hatchets and stovepipe hats in February. Or is it now necessary to cut out construction paper golf clubs? And then one couldn’t help wondering about the healthiness of presidential reverence in the scheme of things. Is it, for example, a good thing to have presidents on money? We’re to have a stream of new dollar coins bearing all the silhouettes of all of these mopes in the order of succession, drawing even more reverent attention to – well – politicians. That can’t be good. One remembers the now vanished Italian notes and coins bearing the likes of Manzoni and Verdi. What would it say about this friendly freedom loving land * if, instead of venerating forty-three elected officials on our monies, we stamped and printed the likes of Louisa May Alcott, Winslow Homer, Aaron Copland, Lorado Taft, and Sam’l Clemens? Would anybody miss Presidents Day if it were re-named Baseball Day and moved to August where it would be infinitely more welcome.? One thinks not.
* one of this librarian’s favorite phrases. The full slogan of the American Brewers Association read “In this friendly freedom loving land, beer belongs. Enjoy it!” It was used in mid-century ads with artwork that consciously imitated Norman Rockwell.