Declare March 13 a National Holiday
We are now just one month away from the grimmest of milestones. On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared the national emergency that persists. Yes, the pandemic started earlier, the virus was here and already wreaking havoc, but it all got real on that dark Friday. It was “official.” The United States was dealing with a pressing threat — not only to our bodies and our families, but to our livelihoods, our economy, and to our social order. We quickly learned some very new words: self-quarantine, social distance, N95.
We all know the story of what followed. We are still living it and writing it. The stages were clear: The Great Pause, Tiger King Mania, Virtual School, The Summer of BLM, Election Mess 2020, Lonely Christmas, Insurrection. Now, we find ourselves in a new stage: Dark Winter. No one imagined it could last this long. We distanced, we masked, we argued, we pivoted, we Zoomed. But we didn’t mourn. Say what you want about our former president, but his biggest crime against this country was the denial of reality. He simply ignored the dead and dying. The result: 475,000 families have no closure, and 328 million of us have had no emotional leadership through the biggest national crisis of our lives. There is a gaping wound in the heart of our nation.
What we need now is ceremony. Joe and Kamala did their best the week of the inauguration to pause and honor those who have died. But the event got lost in the shuffle of the inaugural and in the kerfuffle of impeachment. And — let’s face it — only half the country was actually watching. We need a national holiday to properly honor those we have lost and to forever commemorate the struggle we have all shouldered. “Co-mmemorate,” to remember…together. A national holiday is, perhaps, the only effort we have left that the entire country might support. For a divided people, a day of national mourning might just give us what President Joe wants most: unity.
The last holiday to be introduced to our national calendar was MLK Day. It was established in 1983 by President Reagan and was first observed in 1986. Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., as an icon of the civil rights movement was not only an obligation our nation had to its people, but — like our other federal holidays — it was, and continues to be, an opportunity for education and conversation. The holiday marks our history and commemorates the long road we walk toward social justice.
March 13 can be the same. It can be a day of mourning and of hope, of remembrance and of light. It can mark this moment in the history of our country, and it can forever remind us that from our deepest pain comes awareness, clarity, and gratitude. Because, as we scrubbed and Lysoled through the Great Pause, and as we hibernate during Dark Winter, we have learned a lot about ourselves. Wouldn’t it be incredible to stop once every year, bow our heads for those who are no longer with us, and spend the day remembering all the lessons we have learned this last year about family, relationships, friendships, and the sheer act of living?