What happened to summer? When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that we weren't just heading into a weekend, but the last weekend (unofficially) of summer - that we have one of those four-day weekends congress created nearly forty years ago as a favor to businesses who felt holidays in the middle of the week were costly. Chances are, in this one instance, they were correct. Everybody won. The act, by the way, was called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and was approved in the final summer of President Lyndon Johnson's term, but did not take effect until January 1, 1971, technically the first day of the new decade.
Of course, summer doesn't really end this weekend. That will not happen for another three weeks upon the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox early in the morning - 5:51 am to be exact - on the 23rd of September, one of those important days in my life - not the Autumnal Equinox, but the 23rd, although the two regularly coincide.
I've always thought that calendars were laid out somewhat inappropriately. This weekend is really sort of like New Years in that summer is over, kids are back in school, and vacations are put aside for many people until next summer. New Years leads to a mid year celebration - what we call Christmas and New Years - in about three months. Five months later, on the weekend we call Memorial Day, the year comes to an end and three months of summer are spent in a variety of ways. Just my thinking. Far be it from me to try to change the calendar. The current calendar follows closely to the course of the sun in the northern hemisphere. As the days start to lengthen after the Winter Solstice (around December 21), the year begins. The halfway point arrives around June 23rd, the shortest night - we've discussed this before. Of course, since I was born in September, I feel that month should be at the start of the year. After all, that's how Janaury got where it is. A Roman King, Numa Pompilius, decided that March 1 - New Year's Day at the time, came too late. So he added two months ahead of it. January is named for Janus or Ianarius, the god of the door, as it is the doorway to the year.
September, which starts tomorrow, was originally the 7th month, hence the septem in the name, septem being a Latin root for seven. The addition of January and February moved it to its present standing as the ninth month. October, November, and December follow this same naming pattern. But as for today, we are still in August - albeit the very end of August. I recall that today is the 47th birthday of a friend of mine from my freshman year at UK, Rick Lusardo. I haven't seen him in many years.
Last night, as a sort of final summer engagement, I attended the Annual ACLU of Kentucky Bill of Rights Dinner. The guest speaker was columnist Clarence Page, who addressed a crowd of about 400, considerably less than previous years' dinners, in one of the ballrooms of the Kentucky Convention Center downtown. He quoted a variety of historical personages, as well as his wife and his son, to communicate the message that we can all use what talents we have to do the best job we can do as America forges ahead in the current century. It wasn't necessarily stellar, but it was comforting. And the food was good too. A salad with a vinaigrette dressing, a passel of veggies wrapped in what I think was the very thinly peeled cucumber, a chicken breast on rice, over which I poured more of the vinaigrette dressing, and then a dessert cup of chocolate mousse, with the cup itself being edible. The dessert was basically chocolate flavored butter I think. I ate it all, of course. Although the coffee arrived very late, it was very good. I exchanged stories with Henry Curtis who was seated next to me. Mr. Curtis is an attorney and board member of the Kentucky Commission on Human Relations, formerly of Frankfort, but presently living in Louisville. It was a very pleasant evening. Upon departing, I stopped in the Champions Lounge of the Marriott at 3rd and Jefferson and watched some of the whipping U of L was giving Murray State in Louisville's home-season opener. They won 73-10 before a crowd of 42,185, some of whom would have otherwise been enjoying the chocolate mousse with me after Mr. Page's speech at the ACLU dinner.
This weekend (which is where this entry started) Louisville is having a Worldfest Celebration on the Belvedere running through tomorrow night. The celebration highlight will be a "parade of cultures" tomorrow at noon. Louisville boasts large numbers of foreign nationals, from a variety of countries. While many are scattered throughout the area, the neighborhoods along Southside Drive and out in Okolona along McCawley Road, are home to many immigrants concentrated in small areas. At some point I will write a diatribe on how we as a population tend to treat different foreign minorities differently, the difference mostly based on skin color. But not today. I will leave you with this thought, taken from the Bible, specifically from a book which is oft quoted by right wingers when speaking on another of their favorite subjects, gays. This passage discusses aliens.
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:33-34Similar verses appear in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and the Prophet Jeremiah. Notice the use of the word citizen in the second sentence, thus assuring us that when the writer used the word alien, he (or she) was referring to foreigners. This is one of those inconvenient passages for the fundamentalists. If they believe the whole Bible as they say they do, then illegal immigration should not be a problem. But, do they?
By the way, about 600 people (current foreign nationals) will become U.S. citizens later this morning. U.S. District Judge Edward Johnstone will preside over the naturalization ceremony at the Kentucky Center. Thank you, America. Hope remains.