Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"How I Celebrated Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday"

Yesterday was the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. As it happens, January 19th is also the birthday of Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allan Poe. It was also the birthday of a really good friend of mine who hit 96 years young this week. I'm pretty sure "Doc" celebrated his birthday with an ample supply of well-wishers. As a history buff I posted a birthday tribute to Lee on Liberty Post, and no doubt his admirers did as God lead them yesterday to toast the beloved general in their own way. And speaking of toasts, the "Poe Toaster" was right on schedule in Baltimore, leaving behind a half-bottle of French cognac and three roses on the grave of the author in what has become a time-honored ritual of mystery.

My wife and I spent yesterday at the theater, watching "The Return Of The King" again. The streets were more congested than usual given that all the students had the day-off. A lot more shopping and spending happened yesterday than usually does on a Monday. And quite a number of times yesterday I remarked to Lisa that this was a day wholely and utterly lacking enough redeeming value to call it a national holiday.

I've thought for years that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was a cruel joke on the American people in general, and our kindred of African ancestry in particular. For one thing, I can't trust the motives of those who pushed for this holiday. They're the Jesse Jackson crowd: the kind of people who want prominence and glory for themselves without actually working for it. Under the guise of honoring Dr. King, their own self-interests poison whatever actions they take in his name. King has become an idol to them, or worse a talisman: a name to invoke to achieve power and greatness in this world.

Which isn't what King wanted at all, which ties in to the other reason I've never liked the notion of making his birthday a national holiday. King would have been horrified at the cult that's grown around him, if he were alive today. There's no doubt in my mind that he would have disavowed what's been done in his name, and would have readily repudiated Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and every other two-bit huckster that's stepped over his own brothers to elevate himself. Yes, I'm aware of all the allegations about King. I know that many of his staff were blatantly socialist or outright communist. As for the man himself, I've never considered him anything less than sincere and humble, and that's how he wanted to be remembered in posterity.

I believe that, in time, the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday will cease being an observed holiday on its own, and will merely be combined with a single observance for King, Washington and Lincoln, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and maybe even Edgar Allan Poe for good measure. The people who rode on King's coattails are finally going away, either perforce of nature or by their own admissions and repentance of folly. As it stands now the holiday has no meaning, and people realize this. It's ceased serving its purpose because those who demanded it are becoming an ignored lot. Which I'll let King himself comment on in closing this blog posting...

"Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality."

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