Children across the nation will be out of school tomorrow, to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Just as they will be in a few weeks, to celebrate George Washington's birthday (though we commonly refer to the national holiday as President's Day).
We now know that both King and Washington had what most people consider to be serious personal flaws.
Washington was a slaveholder, though he was obviously convinced this was wrong. He lacked the fortitude and generosity to free his slaves, however, until his death. Both he and Martha wrote in their wills that their slaves would be free. Yet only when they could no longer benefit by them!
What's more: Washington found a technical loophole that allowed him to keep slaves while President, even though it was against the law in the nation's capitol (ie. Philadelphia) for anyone to hold slaves!
By maintaining two residences, alternating between the two places, he could keep the slaves, provided they weren't kept for more than six months at a time in Philadelphia!!
So does anyone question why we honor this man's memory with a national holiday? I've not heard such, have you? Neither am I suggesting it. As I see it, we are not so much honoring our first President as we are honoring the principles of freedom that were espoused in that day--even though they were sometimes not lived out very well by the leaders of that day.
Tomorrow, I'll address similar issues with Martin Luther King Day. Eventually, tying all of this together to raise complex questions that are difficult for most of us to answer.