Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents’ Day

Hard to believe that it is the 21st of February. Pretty soon all of this abysmal snow that is on the ground will be replaced with mud – at least for a short while – which itself will be replaced with dry ground, and green grass, and leaves on the trees, warm weather, baseball… I could go on and on about the virtues of warmer weather, especially because as I write this it is not 20 degrees F outside. And it is snowing. Lightly, but still dropping light white flakes of frozen water on us yet again.

Like everything else that is adversarial in life, I know that this too will pass. So I’ll be patient and maintain a positive attitude.

I have never been happy about the concept of “Presidents’ Day".” When I was a child, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were honored on their respective birthdays: Lincoln’s was on February 12, and Washington’s is February 22 – tomorrow. Growing up in a community located not too far from Boston, our school system used respective Mondays around each of these birthdays. As I recall, we still had school on those days (at least on one of them), but there was always some historical lesson that was taught around these occasions.

For those of you that read this blog (whenever I have time to post – lately that has been problematic, but I’ll talk about that another time), I believe you’re aware that I am an admirer of Abraham Lincoln. I have been for as long as I can remember, simply because he did much during his short time as President. I know that there are many who would argue that some of his policies were not conducive to the welfare of the nation, but I personally believe that so many of the things he did were both necessary and appropriate for the times he led the Nation in. And they opened the door, years later, for so much of what we have today.

In the biography Team of Rivals, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin talks much about the strategizing that went on in the period prior to and during Lincoln’s Presidential campaign. She also analyzes the people who Lincoln selected to be members of his cabinet. He wasn’t looking for people that would rubber-stamp his policies. Rather, he was looking for people who could think critically, be innovative, and ultimately do what was right for the Nation. He also wanted to ensure that those who were his political enemies could be kept in check, and his bringing them on the serve as members of his Cabinet was the right thing to do. In truth, it was really his only option, and it proved to be successful in making a solid political team. And their efforts ultimately kept this country together.

Another figure that I have long admired is the composer Aaron Copland. Yet again, not a surprise for those of you who know me. In 1942 he composed a piece that was among four that were commissioned as patriotic works. I don’t know the history of how this all came about, but for this it doesn’t really matter much. Perhaps someday I will research it and write further on the subject. Anyway, I had put a slide show together a couple of years ago using this as an audio backdrop, but I have never been able to post it anywhere because of its length. Actually, I had it up on a video service sponsored by Microsoft, but that service has seemed to fall by the wayside.

That said, I found a full-length video that, while I honestly am not totally happy with the video itself, the music is there in its entirety. To this day, it’s intent has not been lost.


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