What exactly are we celebrating on Presidents’ Day – other than it being a Federal holiday?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When it comes to celebrating birthdays, Red thinks of cakes and gifts, but obviously, that doesn’t apply to dead presidents; while Black, who barely tolerates birthdays (hers or anyone else’s), wishes we’d celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays by honoring who they were.


Red used to love both George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays when she was in elementary school (back in the 1960s) and not just because they’d have off from school on each of their respective birthdays. (Although only Washington’s birthday was a Federal holiday.) She loved that the holidays prompted learning about each president and even now, decades later, thought of each of them as true heroes of American democracy – Washington as one of the Founding Fathers and Lincoln as the creator of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Black could relate to Washington, who supposedly worked on his birthday, but always thought turning it into a “shared” Presidents' Day diluted the meaning of each. But understood the “logic” (and politics) of creating it, and ultimately making it part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act in order to create more three-day weekends. Her concern, though, is how historical figures, including presidents, are being judged based on current standards vs. the times that they lived in,

Context is everything. Does the fact Washington had slaves (12 of our first 18 presidents did) and did not make sure his wife, Martha, would be allowed to vote, negate that he was instrumental to the United States getting its independence from Britain and our first president (FYI, he warned against political parties)?

That got Red thinking as she’s always loved history and strongly believes one of the most critical roles that history plays is to help us learn from the past and, hopefully, not repeat mistakes. But that shouldn’t mean forgetting to acknowledge what was accomplished, even if “new” facts come to light,

I’ve always loved movies, and being a theater major, I know it’s critical that the story be told so that you understand the time period in which it takes place and how that influences the character’s decisions, and often, their dilemmas. But it’s that “character” development that shows you whether they were just lucky in life or deserved to be called heroes. The same with historical figures.

So, today’s the perfect day to celebrate Washington, Lincoln, and all the other presidents. They may not have been perfect, but they stood up for what they believed and worked hard to make changes they thought important. And even using today’s standards … doesn’t that represent ideals and actions that we can all learn from and emulate?

Can we agree to disagree? No, we’re not talking politics – we’re talking pumpkin spice.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Fall has become the season of pumpkin, or more specifically pumpkin spice; which Red absolutely loves for various reasons while, for Black, besides the fact she doesn’t like the flavor, it just screams, well, MARKETING.

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