The traditionalists had a monopoly on wit. Fletcher Thompson (R-Ga.) offered an amendment to rename our holidays "Uniform Holiday No. 1, Uniform Holiday No. 2," etc. The immortal skinflint H.R. Gross (R-Ia.), who had opposed spending government money to keep the eternal flame over jfk's grave, proposed to move Christmas and New Year's Day to Monday. The Mondaynes were not amused.
The Uniform Holiday Act of 1968 passed the House, 212-83, and the Senate by voice vote, without debate. "This is the greatest thing that has happened to the travel industry since the invention of the automobile," rejoiced the president of the National Association of Travel Organizations.
Rep. Dan Kuykendall (R-Tenn.) saw it differently: "If we do this, 10 years from now our schoolchildren will not know what February 22 means. They will not know or care when George Washington was born. They will know that in the middle of February they will have a three-day weekend for some reason. This will come."
This has come.
Former Confederate states also established Memorial days on several dates ranging from Robert E. Lee's birthday on Jan. 19 to Jefferson Davis' birthday of June 3. Myrta Lockett Avary wrote of the first Memorial Day in Richmond, Virginia in her Reconstruction chronicle,Dixie After the War:
The young men of Richmond, the flower of the city, marched to Hollywood [cemetery], armed with picks and spades and numbering in their long line, . . . remnants of famous companies, whose gallantry hand made them shining marks on many a desperate battlefield . . .
Thousands visited the green hillside where General Jeb Stuart lay, a simple wooden board marking the spot; his grave was a mound of flowers. . . No Hero, great or lowly, was forgotten, What a tale of broken hearts and desolate homes far away the many graves told! Here had the Texas Ranger ended his march; here had brave lads from the Land of Flowers and all the states intervening bivouacked for a long, long night, from whose slumbers no bugle might wake them.