NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Re-purposing President’s Day: Your leadership is your legacy

Happy mid-February! It is time to think about those childhood memories of the usual first day off for February school vacation (the third Monday in February). Remember?

A whole week to delay homework. February is all about Black History Month, more daylight, a concurring holiday all about l-o-v-e, and of course world Nutella day.

But it is also Presidents Day.

It is an inharmonious day to feel celebratory especially with its juxtaposition the same month as Black History Month. It is difficult to recall the injustices under leadership of our fledging country as economies of growth were driven by the exploitations of both slavery and minority labor.

It is difficult to remember the elimination or resettlement of our indigenous forebears under assertive presidential leadership; most recently we watched the Standing Rock Sioux fight for a stay in the Dakotas. We watched as an administration implemented the order for separation of caregivers or parent(s) from their children at the border. In this vein, presidential felicitation means different things for different citizens.

I think of Presidents Day as a set-aside holiday based on creating a mythology out of past elected fractious leaders.

Would we embrace, rather, a national reckoning day of reflection, civility, and citizenship?

I propose a repurposed holiday to citizen leadership day. Let us recall how many devoted folks have shown up to be the change, volunteer steering committees, ad hoc unpaid councils, volunteer school activism, non-profit volunteers, community organizers, those alone on the dais, and those surrounded, who have devoted generations of their time labor and love to making inch by inch progress.

A majority devoted to their citizen leadership might notice that those giving of their spirit are there to ameliorate oppressions in socio economic status, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, ageism, ableism, and sexism.

It is time to celebrate citizens who devote their lives to the cultivation of the art of citizen leadership. Where are our leaders that are not elected and do not lead from the White House, the Supreme Court, or the Congress?

What are their voices like? How do they contribute?

Close your eyes for one moment and think of a time in your life when you were inspired to act. What was the catalyst? Who was the changemaker inspiring you?

Celebrate that person on February 20, 2023. And have some Nutella.