Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is just around the corner and next Monday, our nation will observe the day with parades and other activities.
As a result, children will be out of school and banks will be closed, as well as several government agencies.
It is a wonderful thing that citizens in the United States honor Dr. King in such a way. He stood for freedom and justice for everyone. He wanted the people of this great country to respect and love one another.
There are other figures in history, I believe, who also should have holidays of their own. I am not saying schools and government should be closed for each of these holidays, but it would serve the people well to remember others who have been instrumental in preserving all that is just in society.
Susan B. Anthony is an example. I can't think of a single holiday held in honor of a woman, but if any American woman is deserving of her own holiday, I think she is the one.
Anthony's brother was active in the anti-slavery movement and she wasn't far behind in leading the movement for women's rights.
She was ahead of her time. She argued women and African-Americans weren't second-class citizens. That was before Americans fought one another in the Civil War.
Anthony lived from 1820 to 1906 and was a pioneer, attempting to unify the African-American and women's rights movements in 1856.
She became friends with Frederick Douglass with whom she found herself at odds when he backed the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, leaving women's suffrage behind.
Anthony hasn't been the only woman to have a profound impact on society.
Mother Teresa is another woman I believe deserves her own holiday for her devotion to the sick, the poor and the helpless.
She helped bring to the forefront what a true servant really is. Her example greatly affected the entire world.
Through Mother Teresa's work, society has a greater awareness of the consequences of poverty.
She has been recognized for her devotion and charity, humanitarian works and love of others both posthumously and while she lived.
However, this nation that recognizes those who have so greatly impacted society with a holiday has failed to recognize Mother Teresa in such a way.
If not for her charity and mission work alone, she could also be recognized for rescuing children from a hospital during a seige in Beirut and helping victims of Chernobyl, as well as earthquake victims in Armenia.
Mother Teresa was another noble individual seeking justice for everyone, and she should not be forgotten.
One individual not often remembered for his contributions to this nation's history is Horace Mann.
I added him to my list of individuals deserving a holiday because education as we know it might not exist if not for his efforts.
Mann believed education was the key to raising judicious republican citizens.
The U.S. is not a democracy, but a republic and Mann was a member of the Whig Party. He was the first Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mann began education reform with the state board of education with several premises outlined in his book The Common School Journal. Mann believed the public had a vested interest in the public education of children and children from a variety of backgrounds should be embraced in the schools (equal opportunity education).
After his visit to European schools, the Prussian education system was adopted in both Massachusetts and several New York schools.
That was the beginning of a revolution in the American school system, but the common person may not know this because Mann's legacy is often taken for granted.
If we had a holiday in his honor, children might be better educated on the importance of Horace Mann.
That is one reason, I believe, holidays do hold importance in preserving history. With the approach of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, children in the schools are being taught about his contributions to society...why not other monumental figures in the fight for justice and equal opportunity for all?