'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
4TH OF JULY HISTORY LESSON
(published on June 30, 2006)
Well, we’re just a few days away from the 4th of July holiday, and luckily this year, the 4th of July lands on July 4th.
Good thing our Founding Fathers decided not to call this holiday “Independence Day,” causing it to be one of those floating holidays, like Memorial Day or Labor Day, which are observed on different dates each year so they always occur on Mondays. This has produced much confusion among school children, who now believe that our national holidays exist to commemorate two very sacred American institutions: the three-day weekend and the low-price mattress sale.
Back in 1776, there was much heated debate among the Founding Fathers about what exactly to call the holiday commemorating the signing of the Mayflower Compact. Betraying an undercurrent of regional hostility, the Virginia delegation, led by Thomas Jefferson, proposed to call the holiday, “John Adams Is a Short, Bald Weasel Day.”
Not to be outdone, the Massachusetts delegation, led by Ted Kennedy, proposed to call the holiday, “Thomas Jefferson Is Tall and Handsome But He Owns Slaves Day.”
The elder statesman of the group, as least when he was sober, Benjamin Franklin, proposed this name: “How Do We Even Know This Will Turn Into a Holiday? Day.” The other Founding Fathers, confident they were on the right track holiday-wise, poured ol’ Ben another brandy and sent him out to get more Doritos.
Another idea came from the Wisconsin delegation, led by Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who proposed to call the holiday, “We Won’t Even Be a State for Another Century and Yet Our Ideas Makes More Sense Than Anything We’ve Heard Today Day.”
The New Jersey delegation, led by Tony Soprano, brought the proceedings to a temporary halt by noting that they had not signed the Mayflower Compact but instead had signed the Declaration of Independence.
The arguing continued for days. The stalemate was finally broken when the secretary, a temp from Kelly Services, said to herself, “This is stupid. Let’s just name the holiday by using today’s date: the 9th of June.”
(Historical note: it turns out the temp agency sent over a secretary not trained in Microsoft Word, so she wrote everything out longhand, and by the time the final document was photocopied and faxed a few times, you really couldn’t tell if she had written “Jun 9” or “Jul 4.” A mid-level bureaucrat at the Department of National Holidays in Washington, D.C., using the official government tie-breaker technique—eenie, meenie, minie, moe—selected the 4th of July. By the way, the official government tie-breaker technique was successfully used by President Harry Truman to decide which city would be the target of the first atomic bomb. That turned out to be a lucky day for Des Moines.)
Anyway, this year the 4th of July falls on a Tuesday, making it impossible to have a three-day weekend, which is fine by me. On three-day holiday weekends I feel pressured to travel around the state visiting relatives, and with the price of gas these days I just can’t afford to do that anymore.
Of course, some people will take a vacation day on Monday, July 3rd, and turn it into a four-day weekend (which only puts pressure on them to visit relatives out-of-state! Who can afford THAT?). Thankfully this is not an option for me as I recently used up my last vacation day celebrating the real Independence Day on June 9th.
Even though it’s summer and schools are closed, we should never stop learning about our nation’s fascinating history. I’m glad I could be of help.
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