Today is, well, not exactly the Fourth of July. Obviously. But it is part of a long holiday weekend in celebration of U.S. Independence Day.
Making it feel like a holiday post is in order, especially since the actual holiday was on a Sunday this year, and there’s a meme or two for Sundays. Honestly, if I didn’t do the Sunday Post/Virtual Nightstand I’d be a bit lost for the entire week. Instead, today will be a bit of a lost day as there isn’t anything that particularly HAS to be done today.
Today will be an excellent day to read. But then, aren’t they all?
Very likely it has never been considered a particularly glamorous job for an enlisted solider, sailor, or airman, but the public health and preventive medical corps have had their part to play from the very beginning. In fact, one of George Washington’s first actions after his appointment as command-in-chief of the revolutionary army was to write Congress asking them to establish a “Hospital” for the army (by which he meant a military medical service). In particular, communicable disease was very much on his mind:
I have been particularly attentive to the least Symptoms of the small Pox and hitherto we have been so fortunate, as to have every Person removed so soon, as not only to prevent any Communication, but any Alarm or Apprehension it might give in the Camp. We shall continue the utmost Vigilance against this most dangerous Enemy.
Washington was writing this about 20 years before Jenner came up with his smallpox vaccine, but well before Jenner an inoculation technique called variolation had been used. The idea was to take a scab from a recent smallpox victim, rub into into scratches on the person to be inoculated, and hope that the resulting case would be mild. Often it was, but there was also a big risk when applying variolation to an army: triggering an epidemic. Nonetheless, in 1777 Washington took a gamble and inoculated all of his troops while camped in Morristown. It worked.
We have better tools nowadays, of course, but the specter of disease killing more soldiers than bullets remains with us always.
Some of the techniques for avoiding disease are simple yet effective. A medical degree may get you an instant commission as an officer, but we should never forget the enlisted medical staff working in public health and sanitation. A sawbones can put you back together, but the humble hospital corpsman ensuring cleanliness may well save more lives.
COVID-19 is not a war, but we nonetheless should listen to what the medical corpsmen and corpswomen are no doubt saying every day: Wash your hands. Wear your mask.
Alternatively, Happy Turkey Coma Day. Or even Happy Parade Day.
Possibly even Happy semi-official start of the Xmas Season.
Last year, Galen posted a reading list along with a picture of tiny, bitey Miss Hecate, who was thankful for her timely rescue the month before. So I’ll leave you this year with a picture of the full-grown Miss Hecate, still grateful for that timely rescue, just as we are grateful for her playful advent into our lives. And as you can see from her picture below, she’s expecting someone to be grateful that she brought him a mousie.
Today is Labor Day in the U.S., making this a three-day holiday weekend for those of us who either get paid for the holiday or receive time off to be taken later in exchange for working the holiday, or who get time-and-a-half or overtime pay for working the holiday. And for any of the above, thank the Labor Unions that this holiday was originally created to celebrate.
But when I looked back at my previous Labor Day posts, I noticed a second theme that I hadn’t expected, but is in full force – literally – this weekend as well.
Labor Day, in addition to marking the unofficial end of summer, seems to be Prime Time for Atlantic hurricanes. Hence the picture at the top of this post, Hurricane Dorian, which now looks like it’s going to head up the Atlantic coast. It could change course again, but it’s definitely going to do some folks a whole lot of damage along its way.
If you’re in the path of the Hurricane, take care and take shelter as needed. If you’re not, while you’re celebrating the holiday, spare a thought and a prayer or two for those who are spending this weekend battening down the hatches.
Today is probably a good day to re-watch the movie 1776 – or listen to the original cast recording of Hamilton. More likely both. Both are stories about the beginning of what was sometimes called the “American Experiment” – as in the experiment of democracy. It was kind of a new thing in the late 1700s.
If you are wondering whether that experiment may have run its course this Independence Day, you’re not alone.
Once upon a time, it was glorious. Flawed, often extremely so, but glorious all the same. I think we’re all going to miss it if it’s gone.
Today’s hop celebrates dads everywhere, and is scheduled to end just before Father’s Day is celebrated in the U.S. So just in time for the winners to either give their prizes to dad or use the gift cards they win to get a gift for dad. (Or to keep for yourownself if you are the dad!)
And for those of us who have lost their dads, a time to remember them – not that we don’t on plenty of other days.
But this hop is for all those great dads out there, whether their children are human or feline or canine or feathered or scaled or any or all of the above!
The question in the rafflecopter is “If money (and reality) were ignored, what gift would you most want to give your dad?” I think I’d give mine flying lessons. My dad joined the U.S. Army Air Corps just after WW2 because he wanted to learn to fly. He was honorably discharged after six months because he could fly just fine, but he couldn’t land the plane on visual. Dad had no depth perception, so he just couldn’t find the ground reliably – at least not until gravity slammed the plane, and himself, and the poor instructor, into the ground. When my dad passed away, my mother discovered that he had been taking flying lessons – again – and just hadn’t told her. I can’t say that I was surprised about either part of that, that he was trying again, or that he hadn’t mentioned it.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Based on the Wikipedia article, the exact history of this holiday is still up for debate. But then, isn’t everything these days.
It seems to have begun as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. And it seems to have “officially” been set to May 30 after the U.S. Civil War. Needless to say, that was observed differently between the North and South in the late 19th century.
In the (not quite) end, all of the various Decoration Day and Memorial Day observances coalesced into one day, May 30, to become Memorial Day, to honor the sacrifice of all soldiers who fell in uniform regardless of which war (or not) they fell in.
And things stayed that way until the whole “Monday Holiday” thing, otherwise known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, moved four holidays from their traditional dates of observance to their nearest convenient Monday in order to create 3-day weekends and boost tourism. So here we are, many, but not all of us able to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.
But that’s not how this all began, and not how it should be remembered. Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the fallen. And so we should.
If you have today off as a paid holiday – or if you are working today but get a paid day later to make up for it, or if you get time and a half or doubletime for working today, it’s thanks to the labor movement that is celebrated today.
And if you don’t, that might be thanks to the way that the labor movement has been beaten back in recent years.
Today also marks the unofficial end of summer in the United States, even though the lines between seasons have gotten much blurrier over the years. School used to start after Labor Day and now it starts before. Football season still officially begins, but baseball season used to be winding down towards the playoffs about this point. Now the regular season has another month to run before the playoffs, and the World Series doesn’t begin until the end of October.
But still, no matter what else is happening, or what the weather is doing, Labor Day still marks the beginning of the end. The year always feels like its winding down from this point.
If you have a three-day weekend, be sure to enjoy the last gasp of summer. After all, it’s only 58 days to Halloween!
To those in the United States, Happy Fourth of July. So as not to be completely remiss, to those in Canada, a belated Happy Canada Day.
Now that I’ve lured you in with a picture of Independence Day fireworks, I’m going to share a different picture. This has been going around on Facebook for a few days, and I think we all need the reminder.
I check the box for immigrants. All four of my grandparents came to the United States from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. I only exist because they fled to the this country before the Holocaust. All of my family who did not leave died in the concentration camps.
My husband’s family has been here a bit longer. On one side, he has ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. On the other, Scots-Irish who came to the U.S. just after the Civil War. But he is still the descendant of immigrants.
And whether or not you are also able to tick off some of the other boxes on that short list, so are you.
On the one hand, for most of us, today is a happy day. Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. marks the unofficial start of summer. And it’s a three-day weekend, and for those of us who get to take the whole thing off, three-day weekends are always excellent.
On that oh-so-infamous other hand, the holiday we are celebrating is not technically happy. Memorial Day was set aside to honor all those who served our country, and who fell while wearing its uniform.