By Connie Denney
What do groundhogs, presidents and lovers have in common? If you have turned the calendar page manually, electronically, emotionally or otherwise, you know the answer is attention during February. To be the short month it is, February has a lot going on—or at least it has had over the years.
If you put a lot of store by names, you may want to trek back to Roman times. Think “Februarius.” There’s the whole thing about how it came to be a month at all, leap year, changes in calendars, etc. to explore for details.
For now, let’s take a stroll through some of the more modern stops along the way. On Feb. 3, 1870, Congress ratified the 15th Amendment to the Constitution giving African American men the right to vote. If that sounds a bit early to you, do read further about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In between, on Feb. 1, 1960, four black college students did not leave after being refused service at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Other sit-ins followed.
The 60s are known for a number of reasons. Many love the music and remember the lingo! Of historical and global importance, the late John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth Feb. 20, 1962. Now, that’s far out (60s translation: awesome)!
The above are a few high points. February also hosts other noteworthy markers in time and draws our thoughts to specific causes. Consider American Heart Month, Chocolate Lovers Month, Creative Romance Month. Certainly, the choice of February for these, I suspect, could be tied to the romantic unofficial holiday Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world.
There’s also Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month. Guess the market people would love you for that!
Then, there are the birthdays. A number of notables were born during February. The one that results in a holiday on Monday, Feb. 18, was George Washington, the first President of the United States. Presidents’ Day, itself, has a bit of a history. Washington was actually born Feb. 22, 1732, but the holiday’s evolution allows honoring other presidents also AND makes for a three-day weekend, as it is set for the third Monday of the month.
In the interest of balance, it should be noted that February dates were important in the careers of our two presidents who were impeached. In 1868, on the 24th, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. On the 12th in 1999, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in the Senate ended. Both were acquitted.
By the time you read this, Groundhog Day 2019 will be history. You already know the celebrity Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow when he left the comfort of his burrow on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. We will have to wait to see whether the prediction of an early spring proves true.
You have Presidents’ Day as an official holiday to anticipate.
Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, however, may be the observance most anticipated, the most likely to bring the most smiles to faces of all ages. A celebration of love is a good thing. Enjoy!