Each year, as we approach the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, I wonder if I should write a blog article about the time I proposed a new holiday named Kings Day. I don’t want anyone to think I’m insensitive to racial issues, but I do like to look for the humor in things and write about it. So, here goes.
I live in a wonderful little city in South Carolina. Actually, I live in an unincorporated part of the surrounding county, out where you can own a house on a couple of acres without breaking the bank. Back in 2003, this county was one of the very few in the country that had not yet recognized the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Day. For years, a few stubborn folks on our County Council blocked it from being recognized as a national holiday in the county.
Naturally, this was prime fodder for the morning radio talk show I listened to each weekday. Those in favor of the proposal were vocal and adamant. Lots of county employees called in and said they deserved the same extra holiday that all the other government employees got. Some of the excuses from those against the proposal were rather lame, and the discussions often got pretty stupid. That’s when I got the idea for “Kings Day.”
Here’s the background. The two greatest presidents in our country’s history are George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Do they each have their own national holiday? No. They have to share the third Monday of February as Presidents Day. Lincoln was born on February 12, and Washington was born on February 22. Here are two men of the highest stature who have to share a holiday arbitrarily set for the third Monday to give a three-day weekend to lots of folks.
Well, if it’s OK for Washington and Lincoln to share, I didn’t think it would any big deal to suggest that Dr. Martin Luther King share his holiday. Elvis’ birthday is January 8, just a week before Dr. King’s. So, I sent an e-mail to that talk radio show and proposed a compromise to settle the impasse. The message ended with: “I humbly suggest that Greenville County Council should declare the second Monday as Kings Day, to commemorate the January 15 birthday of Martin Luther King and the January 8 birthday of Elvis Presley, the ‘King of Rock & Roll.’”
When I sent the e-mail, I thought, “Well, that ought to stir things up.” It certainly did. Although it sparked a little reasoned debate, there certainly was much more uncontrolled ranting.
A few months later, we had elections for County Council, and four new members were voted in. At the new Council’s first meeting, they had another vote on the holiday, and nobody brought up my Elvis idea. However, by a 8-to-3 vote, they finally recognized Martin Luther King Day in the county.
Kings Day still seems like a good idea to me. If Washington and Lincoln have to share a holiday, why can’t ‘The King’ and Dr. King share one? Elvis has been named one of the 100 outstanding Americans of the 20th century, and he’s been honored on a US postage stamp, so this is no slap at MLK.
Think about it. Isn’t it about time we got a day off to celebrate the birthday of ‘The King?’
© 2008 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net