Did anyone notice something a little different about this week? Maybe it was the extra day of classes? For the past two years Western has chosen not to exempt students from classes for Presidents’ Day.
Missouri Western honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by closing campus for his birthday back in January, but has remained in session for Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday that combines the celebration of former presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Although the university has done an exceptional job paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by incorporating a Drum Major for Justice banquet in his honor, screening historical films like ‘Selma’ and hosting a candlelight vigil, there has been no obvious homage for either Washington or Lincoln.
This is not to take credit away from Dr. King. The reverend dedicated his life to the advancement of our country and the equality of its citizens, there is no doubt he should be honored. This is merely to question why there has been little to no attention paid to two of our most influential presidents.
The closest Western has been to commemorating any of the founding fathers would be when Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the book Lincoln that was later turned into a critically acclaimed film, was a speaker at the Convocation on Critical Issues in 2013.
According the the academic calendars for Spring 2018, 2019 and 2020, classes will still be in session for the next few Presidents’ Days. If we are being completely honest, most students probably didn’t notice that classes were in session an extra day, and they probably didn’t care that Monday was Presidents’ Day, but isn’t that a little disheartening?
Students see images of these men almost everyday in the form of currency, but collectively we don’t pay much attention as to why they are there. We don’t ever stop to think about Washington leading the country in the fight for independence from Britain or Lincoln debating Stephen Douglas on the immorality of slavery.
The incorporation of programing similar to constitution day or a historical screening of the film Lincoln would be a simple and sufficient step for Western to pay tribute to the former presidents. In a time where students are heavily saturated in politics on multiple platforms, shouldn’t the education and celebration of American history be prioritized?