Category Archives: holidays

In Memoriam

I’ve discovered that there seems to be some confusion about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That fact confuses me, frankly, though their previous designations would be much more unclear.

Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Whereas: Continue reading In Memoriam

Valentines QUESTION

Valentine’s Day – love it or hate it?

Well, I don’t hate it anymore. But I’m still less than enamored by it than I might be. I still feel more affinity for the heartbreak songs than the “true love” tunes. Even as a kid, I related to songs of love lost.

Later it was the revenge songs such as Del Shannon’s Hats Off To Larry or the Johnny Mercer song I Wanna Be Around.

My favorite Valentine’s day song is titled Valentine’s Day, by Steve earle. Can’t find a version by the singer/songwriter, except on, though there are cover versions on YouTube and such as this one.

I come to you with empty hands
I guess I just forgot again
I only got my love to send
On Valentine’s Day
I ain’t got a card to sign
Roses have been hard to find
I only hope that you’ll be mine
On Valentine’s Day
I know that I swore that I wouldn’t forget
I wrote it all down: I lost it I guess
There’s so much I want to say
But all the words just slip away

The way you love me every day
Is Valentine’s Day

If I could I would deliver to you
Diamonds and gold; it’s the least I can do
So if you’ll take my IOU
I could make it up to you
Until then I hope my heart will do
For Valentine’s Day

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day, and what’s your favorite song for the occasion, if any?


Christopher Columbus

The wife gets up one morning last week and while taking her shower muses on the word colony. Since Christopher Columbus was also known as, among other things, Cristóbal Colón, she wondered if his name might be the root of the word.

Interesting premise, but apparently not so. According to the dictionary, the etymology of the word colony is from the Middle English colonie, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin colonia, from colonus farmer, colonist, from colere to cultivate.
Confidential to FGH: all meals in Columbus, OH are $14.92 or a multiple of same; it’s a municipal mandate. Also true in Columbia, SC.
Went to the wedding of Susan Brynofson, a member of my church choir, and Robert Gierthy yesterday. Congratulations to them and their families.
There’s a new 1.25 mile pedestrian walkway over the Hudson River between Highland and Poughkeepsie, near my old college town of New Paltz, the refurbishing of an old railroad bridge long abandoned. I need to walk this sometime.
I had indicated my fear from making my first appearance on radio since I used to read news copy for my college radio station XX years ago. It’s now available for dissection. I’ll tell you what was very weird about it, which was told to me beforehand: I never talked with the host before or after the show. Also I really thought I finally was rolling when it ended. More info, including the links here.
Free Gospel Concert: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson today (Monday, October 12)
Huxley Theater, New York State Museum
A pre-concert movie at 3PM – Mahalia Jackson: the Power and the Glory
In concert: Sharon Fullard, Constance Graves, Marjorie Rush
Merline Smith – Concert Master
Visit Through the Eyes of Others on exhibition in West Gallery


Remember the Date QUESTION

There are dates throughout the year that, without prompting from calendars or news stories, remind me of something that happened in the past, external to myself or my family. April 4, for instance, I always remember as the day in 1968 that Martin Luther King, Jr. got shot. Other days that seem to stick in my mind:

January 28, 1986 – the Challenger disaster. Oddly, the Columbia disaster of February 1, 2003 doesn’t though I do remember that it was around Groundhog’s Day as I was heading for a MidWinter’s party at the time.
May 4, 1970 – the Kent State disaster. It’s codified by that song. No, not Ohio by CSNY, but that annoying Mike Love rewrite of Leiber & Stoller’s Riot on Cell Block #9 called Student Demonstration Time, which appears on the otherwise excellent Beach Boys album Surf’s Up.
America was stunned on May 4, 1970
When rally turned to riot up at Kent State University
They said the students scared the Guard
Though the troops were battle dressed
Four martyrs earned a new degree
The Bachelor of Bullets

It also features the classic line: “The pen is mightier than the sword, but no match for a gun.”
May 8, 1972 – the mining of Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam, which many people feared represented an escalation of the war. Much student activism around the country followed, including at my campus.
June 5, 1968 -RFK’s assassination, which I’ve wrote about before.
July 7, 1940 – R8ingo Starr’s birthday. George’s birthday moved from February 25 to February 24, and Paul’s birthday I confuse with Brian Wilson’s in mid-June, but Ringo’s I remember. Maybe it’s because it seems lucky – 7/7- and I recall aan LP called The Beatles’ Story which indicated that Ringo was the final ingredient necessary to create the magic of Beatlemania. He’s also the question to this answer: JEOPARDY! Show #5647 – Tuesday, March 10, 2009 HE SAID, SHE SAID for $1200: “Sorry Beatles fans, he said he has “too much to do, so no more fan mail…& no objects to be signed”
I also am reminded of the 2005 London bombings on that date.
August 28, 1963 – march on Washington, “I Have a Dream” speech
September 11, 2001 – Moby’s 35th birthday; I remember this because I often play the music of a particular musician on his or her birthday, especially those birthdays divisible by five. I’ve since wondered how it would be to have a birthday so associated with tragedy such as 9/11. (The Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery took place on my 12th birthday, and I remember it quite well, but it didn’t have anywhere near the same scope.)
October 4, 1987 – a freak Albany snowstorm that knocked out power to some people for a couple weeks. I was out only four days.
October 9, 1940 – I do remember John Lennon’s birthday, and that of his son Sean 35 years later. But I was reminded by my one-time office mate that it’s also Jackson Browne’s birthday, but I couldn’t tell you what year without looking it up. (It’s 1948.)
November 22, 1963 – the JFK assassination. I had a girlfriend who, for every Thanksgiving blessing, would invoke the memory of JFK.
December 8, 1980 – John Lennon’s death.
December 24, 1990 – the death of Sandy Cohen, the tenor soloist of my church choir at the time. He had had two or three heart attacks before that, one of them during a church service, which he wouldn’t leave until he finished “the gig”, so it shouldn’t have surprised us, yet it did.

Given my personal history, it’s quite possible that I will add April 3, 2009 to the list.

How about you? What events always stick in your mind when the date rolls around? I’m looking for the births, deaths, anniversaries, but not of family members – which I’m SURE you all remember. I’m also ignoring holidays and quasi-holidays (January 1, February 2 & 14, March 17, April 1, June 14, July 4, November 11, December 25) as well, unless something else is triggered by it.

The King Holiday

Isn’t it convenient to always have your birthday on a Monday? (Well, it would be if ML King, Jr., like I do, took his birthday off.) For the record, his birthday was actually January 15 and he would have been 80 this year.

Who woulda thunk that Ronald Reagan would be the one to sign the holiday into law in 1983? It was first in 1986, but there was a lot of resistance, and it wasn’t observed in all 50 states, the Wikipedia notes, until 2000.

I was fascinated by the discussion before it became a holiday, as noted here:

“There were many who opposed the idea of holiday for Dr. King. America had only honored two individuals with national holidays – George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Many felt that there were other Americans that deserved a national holiday, such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

“One barrier to the confirmation was the Senator from Georgia who had denounced Dr. King as a communist.

“Others feared the King holiday was meant as a way to make up to African-Americans for slavery. Other feared the cost of the holiday, with the extra overtime paid to federal workers who had to work on the holiday as well as millions to those federal employees who were paid for the day.

“Senator Bob Dole pointed out to those critics “I suggest they hurry back to their pocket calculators and estimate the cost of 300 years of slavery, followed by a century or more of economic, political and social exclusion and discrimination.”

The Holiday’s Campaign Song
As I pondered writing this piece, before looking up any sources, I was going to suggest that the King holiday WAS a sort of reparations for slavery and its aftermath. And then I discover it’s Bob Dole -BobDole! – who had already laid out an economic justification for the holiday.

There’s a lot out there about the significance of today in light of what’s going to happen tomorrow. Just Google king obama and you’ll know what I mean.

So I hope that today’s more than just a day off. The holiday’s become a day of community service; I believe the Obamas will be doing just that. Quiet reflection would also be OK; there are lots of books out there – here are three picture books recommended by Rebecca, e.g. Or you can go celebrate at an event. Quiet, loud – I don’t care.

One thing to check out, somewhat to my surprise, is the B.C. comic strip for January 18, 2009.