Sunday, February 15, 2015

Let’s all sing “the Worried Man Blues” on President’s Day 2015

Carter Family: "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song,"
With the Twin Cities (my neighborhood) awash in ads for celebratory sales, I’m thinking about President’s Day to be celebrated across the US tomorrow, the third Monday of February, and I only vaguely recall the origin of this holiday. Never fear. I refreshed my memory by reading an article by Lauren Himlak at Lauren reminds us the holiday originally commemorated the birthdays of Lincoln, Feb. 12, and Washington, Feb. 22, and was only later designated as President’s Day, which falls on Feb. 16 this year.

Himlak explains:

Today, President’s Day is well accepted and celebrated. Some communities still observe the original holidays of Washington and Lincoln, and many parks actually stage reenactments and pageants in their honor. The National Park Service also features a number of historic sites and memorials to honor the lives of these two presidents, as well as other important leaders.

Continuing to follow up my Google search regarding President's Day, I came across a recently updated essay by Bill Moyers that movingly connects us with Abraham Lincoln:

I had a history professor at the University of Texas - Robert Cotter - who believed the most remarkable quality of Abraham Lincoln was his empathy for people he didn't personally know. The working man. The soldier in battle. His widow and orphans.

Ordinary folks caught in the undertow of events. We could use that kind of empathy today. As Washington obsessed all week over the fate of one nominee to the cabinet, and as we watched hearings about the failure of watchdog agencies going to sleep on the job, we heard almost nothing of the people across the country suffocating in the wreckage of their lives. Some of us born in the Depression still remember the song made famous by the Carter Family singers, called the "Worried Man Blues".

"I went across that river and I lay down to sleep. When I woke up there were shackles on my feet."

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