Looking forward to your upcoming Fourth of July time off this weekend? Or is it next weekend? Or neither?
By now you know that the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday this year, giving new meaning to the expression “hump day” for those getting only a single day off. Sorry about that!
When I worked in an office and the Fourth fell on a, say, Thursday, they’d hold off granting the extra day until the last minute, then toss Friday to us like a dog bone. (Yes, we chomped on it.) Three-day weekends are always welcomed, four-day weekends are reassured. The holiday falling midweek? Not so much.
While getting a single vacation day next Wednesday angers many people, others see it as an opportunity. The thinking usually goes: “Hey, if I use up just four vacation days around it, I can have nine straight days off.” That’s sticking it to the man!
In 1971, Congress changed most national holidays to Mondays, but left Independence Day alone. Bad idea. There was no reason to make the Fourth an exception. Thank God it’s Wednesday? I think not.
Many of us celebrate the holiday with family gatherings, barbecues, and patriotic displays. Politicians often make it a point to appear at public events to praise the nation’s history and virtues.
But truthfully, do we still celebrate the Fourth’s values? Yes, we still treasure our freedoms, and it’s always been thrilling to see holiday fireworks draping the Statue of Liberty. The plaque mounted at the statue’s lower level features “The New Colossus,” a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus, and reads in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Do we follow that credo anymore? In light of recent events, perhaps it’s time to replace that stirring invitation with “Give me your well-to-do, your fluent English speakers, your Phd candidates, and the rest of you poor, frightened masses can take a hike.”
And if that cherished American ideal no longer holds true, is referring to the Fourth as Independence Day and moving it to the first Monday of July really such a sacrilege?
So enjoy your upcoming holiday. Now get back to work!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.