Gregory Whitney | Proposed New Federal Holiday

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

A dreary gap exists between Washington’s birthday in mid-February and Memorial Day at the end of May. A new federal holiday on the last Monday in April would welcome spring and celebrate the birthday of President Ulysses Grant. 

As commanding general of the Union Army during the Civil War, Grant’s mastery of strategy and logistics defeated the Confederate Army, allowing Congress to survive and pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. 

The 13th Amendment’s subsequent ratification by the states prohibited in all then and future states, slavery, the most egregious form of “systemic racism.” 

A few years later the 14th Amendment made former slaves U.S. citizens. 

Following his election in 1868, President Grant advocated ratification of the 15th Amendment, prohibiting the denial of the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. 

Subsequently, Southern Democrats resisted the efforts of the Black population among them to exercise their new freedoms, organizing the Ku Klux Klan and lynching Black people to discourage their voting, holding political office and owning property. 

President Grant, with funding from Congress, dispatched the U. S. Army to South Carolina in 1870 to suppress Southern overt resistance and stop lynchings. 

Some people’s racial, sexual and ethnic biases cannot allow them to honor any white man, even a person with Grant’s record of saving and improving our nation. For those people the new holiday could commemorate COVID-19 dead and disabled of any and all races, sexes and ethnicities. 

Following the pandemic’s destruction of the restaurant, travel and hospitality industries, creating a timely new federal holiday would provide more opportunity for their economic recovery. 

Most of the 10% of the working population paying 90% of all taxes continued to work and pay taxes throughout the pandemic. These taxpayers could use an additional holiday as vaccinations immunize more and more of the general population, allowing a rapid return to safe and free movement around our nation and the world. 

April 27, 2022, will mark the bicentennial of Ulysses Grant’s birth.

Gregory Whitney

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