The Holiday You Missed

Oct 5, 2008

Murray, KY – I'll bet you missed it.

There it was: one of the most important observances in American history, and you overlooked the whole thing making potato salad for the Labor Day picnic.

I celebrated August 26th I'm proud to say, and no matter who you are, you should have been setting off fireworks or otherwise disturbing the peace of the neighborhood.

Why? Well, it might be because it's the birthday of Lee De Forest, without whose vacuum tube we would have had neither television nor WKMS.

It might be because on that day in 1883, the tiny island of Krakatoa began to blow up, which put the place on the map only to have it blown off the same map a few days later.

But, most importantly, in 1920, in a fitting start to the decade that would forever after be known as roaring, the great state of Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, thereby giving the women of America the right to vote. That's why we should celebrate.

And, of course, there's my birthday, too.

Ever since 1920, August 26 has been known as Women's Suffrage Day. Suffrage, as you know, refers to the right to vote. It is so called because those who have this right have to suffer through four years of regret, having elected the Idiot of the Year but not being able to realize it until said Idiot is firmly in office and then doe something remarkably stupid. They also have to suffer through four years of hearing all the people who voted for the other candidate reminding them that I didn't vote for the Idiot, I'll tell you that much!

For a long time, women were spared that suffering. Only men voted, so all the things that went wrong were blamed on the men. That was fine with most women, who even then, were pretty busy running the world by using men like herd dogs and draft horses without the men even being aware of what was going on. Women were put on a pedestal, and that gave them a much better view of things so they could run whole towns, states and nations while raising the children, maintaining the household, and holing the society together.

However, a certain group of ladies began to feel sorry for the fact that men were forced to take all the blame for poor political decisions. Women with names like Emmaline Pankhurst and Susan B. Anthony began a campaign to allow women to be just as silly as the men. The name they chose was Suffragettes, in honor of the suffering they were about to endure.

To prove they could be as silly as men, they would parade up and down the streets with signs, wearing the silliest hats they could find. This gave everyone a good laugh, but it made the point: in a silly world, women could be just as goofy as the entire U.S. Congress - if they really tried.

The Suffragettes also chained themselves to public buildings to prove that they were just as capable of losing their keys as men. Just to placate these noisy women, some men proposed an amendment to the Constitution.

So, in 1920, women were allowed to share the blame, and did so by giving us such outstanding political giants as Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, proving, as we suspected all along, that they couldn't possibly do worse than the men.

Sometimes, during the convention season, I think about putting in for reverse suffrage; take the vote away from men and let women have the whole thing. After all, I don't see how they could do any worse, and we wouldn't have to interrupt pre-season football for convention coverage.

Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it like a politician to a campaign promise. That's right I deny everything, depending on what your definition of deny is. Someone put that money in my briefcase while I was looking for my briefs. I never said that; the media is twisting my words. I never inhaled. I thought she was a census taker. This is a plot against me, and I won't stand for it.

I gotta sit down. For WKMS and women everywhere, I'm Robert Valentine.