Sunday, June 3, 2012

Natalicio de Jefferson Davis

Last month (a month ago tomorrow, actually), I was ranting about how I think all holidays are made up (I still do) & how over time, not even so much time, we morph holidays until the event originally represented is often twisted all the way back on itself.  Today I give you one of my favorite holidays:  Jefferson Davis Birthday OR as it is marked on so many calendars here in Fladidah -where it is a state holiday- Natalicio de Jefferson Davis.  Let's take a closer look.

When my brother was a freshman at a university south of the Mason-Dixon, he got into a conversation about what wars had the US lost.  He was astonished to learn that the locals considered the Civil War a loss.  Since then, I have met individuals who consider the county I live in to be occupied territory & a good chunk of the population to be carpetbaggers. That Jefferson Davis, First President of the Confederate States of America would still be a notable figure & his birthday worth a holiday is really not a shock.   Oddly enough, it isn't a holiday in the state where my brother learned the US actually lost the Civil War.  Go figure.

Okay, imagine we are proud sons (& daughters) of the Confederacy, & even though we lost the war we are going to celebrate the birth of our president.  But only one state celebrates on his actual birthday, every time.  It happens to be the state I am in right now, but lets take a look at the others that observe his birthday as an official, no school, no open state offices holiday  They would be....Alabama & Mississippi.  Alabama celebrates Jefferson Davis Birthday on the first Monday in June & actually closes things.  Alabama also has something called King/Lee Day, moshing the federal observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day into the state holiday honoring Robert E. Lee.  When I was in elementary/middle school, we put on mini pageants & presentations in class about the upcoming holidays; I desperately want to see a King/Lee day pageant in person. Mississippi piggybacks Jefferson Davis Birthday on Memorial Day, moving it a week or a month backwards, depending on how you count.

States that do not officially observe Jefferson Davis Birthday include:   Kentucky (the state in which Jefferson Davis was born),  Louisiana (the state in which he died & was first buried), & Virginia (the state in which he was reburied).  In fact, last September, Virginia removed his name from the portion of highway that passes the Pentagon; it had been called Old Jeff Davis Highway for over 100 years.

Which brings us to Fladidah.  Fladidah observes Jefferson Davis Birthday on the actual day & closes nothing, which does not matter this year as it fell on a Sunday anyhow.   Unlike many other UStates, Fladidah has a large, influential spanish speaking, cuban leaning population.  The operative word here is influential.  As a result everything & I do mean everything that the state publishes, it publishes in both english & spanish. 

This means that school children in the largest school district in Jefferson Davis territory, in fact the fourth largest school district in the whole USofA, would be observing Natalicio de Jefferson Davis...if it weren't on a Sunday.  C'mon, it is a little bit funny.

When we (me, my brother, etc.) were in school, a USHistory unit, north or south I imagine, would have included the names of the bigwigs on both sides.  I am fairly confident they don't anymore but here is a challenge: can you name one other member of the Confederate Cabinet?  I can, but I confess its only because the Vice President of the Confederacy was what my mother would call Quite An Odd Duck.  Also, his first 2 names have been made famous in USHistory by a completely different person of no relation whatsoever (one is not even named for the other, its all just a coincidence), but still making his name very easy to remember.  During the civil war he was considered the real threat by the union becasue he was so much more on the ball than anyone else; sadly for the confederacy he was plagued with ill health most of adult life & did a good chunk of his job(s) from his bed.  Even better, after the Civil War he served more than 4 terms in the House of Representatives (which I only learned recently) & as Governor of his home state (which I did know from jr. high history).  There is no state even contemplating a celebration of his birthday.

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