Monday, January 18th, U.S. government offices, and much of private business other than retail, will close in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A century after a violent civil war freed African-Americans, the promises of equality set forth in the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution went unfulfilled until Dr. King's non-violent protests brought change. For this, he is one of just three mortals honored with a federal holiday. King was born into a time and place in America where people were divided by the color of their skin. There were many important actors in the 1960s civil rights movement, but Dr. King stands out for his insistence on uniting Americans.
The Italian navigator Christopher Columbus is justly honored with a federal holiday for his discovery of the New World. For uncountable thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of years, the human family was divided into an Old World of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and a New World of the Americas, Australia, and many islands. Each World wholly unaware of the existence of the other. With advances in science and navigation it was just a matter of time until someone re-introduced the two halves of humanity. The man who did it was Columbus, on October 12, 1492. It is sad that many today seek to divide Americans into "us" and "them," and even do so around the date that we celebrate the one man most directly responsible for re-united mankind.
The third person honored with a federal holiday is our first president, George Washington. In many ways he made the office of President of the United States what it is. The Constitution created a president, with certain enumerated powers, but left many details to be worked out. Was the president to reign like a king? Or would he merely preside, as administrator of the acts of congress? A man accustomed to military command, Washington was far from a figure head leader, but he eschewed such honorific titles as "His Excellency," preferring the functional title of "Mr. President." Most importantly, he stepped down from the presidency, overseeing a peaceful transition of power, and retired from public life.
Next Wednesday we shall see another peaceful transfer of power, from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden. It is the nature of our Republic that we have but one President at a time. Like him or not, he's the only one we have. It is in the interest of every American that we pray that Mr. Biden's Administration fosters the blessings of peace and prosperity. With that in mind I invite all my readers, whether you supported Mr. Biden or not, to say on the afternoon of January 20, 2021:
"Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite; Have mercy upon this whole land; and so rule the hearts of thy servants the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and all others in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things seek thy honor and glory; and that we and all the People, duly considering whose authority they bear, may faithfully and obediently honor them, according to thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen."