President’s Day: a day for patriotic celebration and remembrance, a day reserved for celebrating our past and current administration. The meaning behind this holiday has transformed over the years. Originally it was a celebration of George Washington and his achievements. Then, through the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, it was a holiday created to be a 3-day weekend for the nation’s workers. Eventually, it was officially renamed to be “President’s Day” with variation from state to state, but the bottom line is that this event is widely accepted to be a day reserved for the recognition of the accomplishments made by America’s leaders.
‘In order for justice and peace to prevail over our nation, it is our responsibility to be defenders of democracy.’
But, with a President and administration that perpetuates and endorses unjust, antidemocratic, authoritarian and racist policies, it makes it hard for the people to want to support and recognize the accomplishments of their current leaders. The example that Trump declared a national emergency because he did not get funding to install a border wall further proves this point.
Instead of gathering to recognize and celebrate our administration, we gathered to recognize and celebrate people power, not just in West Chester, but in towns across the nation. Standing in front of the Frederick Douglass Statue, community members and students gathered to speak out about how, together, we can overcome these unjust policies regardless of party affiliation.
A member from RUCCAS, Rustin Urban Community Change Axis, started us off and encouraged sharing positive stories, songs, poems, and chants.
From the Chester County Environmental Alliance, an umbrella organization that links with other environmental groups, Margaret and Nathaniel spoke out about pushing for change in environmental policy around the area. Recently, the group implemented a campaign known as “Don’t Spray Me” to stop unnecessary mosquito spraying. The Alliance noted it was determined to continue working to create change.
Other people spoke with hope, confidence, and encouragement of youth activism and youth participation from all around the world. From the mention of the climate strikes in Europe to the Parkland activists here in the United States, the world’s youth are making waves to shake the system and demand change for a better future.
The group as a whole, however, simply wants to see something different happen within our system, meaning that in order for justice and peace to prevail over our nation, it is our responsibility to be defenders of democracy. To accomplish this, we must build an active base of public support where we come together to overcome these unjust policies and elect officials that support their constituents. Until then, holidays like President’s Day are reserved for the people.
Caitlyn Handlin is a third-year anthropology and Spanish dual major with a Latin American studies minor. CH865109@wcupa.edu