A Toast: To Mr. Jefferson
Ah, the Glorious Fourth!
Let’s head to our corners.
On one side we have the super-pats. They’re the folks who like to pick on the rest of us for our patriotic lapses. They’ve memorized flag etiquette and believe those rules carry the weight of law. They gripe that we don’t illuminate our flags at night, for instance. They think it’s disrespectful to stick a flag in a pot of geraniums. Oh, and they scrutinize hand placement during the National Anthem and lapel pins during debates. They become irate when we refer to today as the “4th of July” instead of Independence Day.
Stop nitpicking. Please. We’re all Americans here.
In the other corner we have the sneering patriotism-is-for-peasants crowd. They go out of their way to tinkle on all things American. Especially around major patriotic holidays.
Last week they had Colin Kaepernick and Nike leading the charge. Now look who’s joined them: Charlottesville City Council.
Yep, this gang of politically correct avocado toast munchers are starring in their own reality show. This week, they voted 4-1 to cancel the city’s Thomas Jefferson birthday holiday. Instead there will be Liberated and Freedom Day in March.
“Doing away with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday doesn’t do away with the history,” the lone dissenting councilmember, Kathy Galvin, said during a Monday council meeting, according to CBS. “That birthday is still here. What he has done in the past is there.”
I hesitate to point this out, but without Mr. Jefferson there would be no Charlottesville as we know it.
It’d be Danville with a view.
The academic village Jefferson built in his hometown is the root of everything good that’s happened in that city. The University of Virginia has educated thousands of teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers and writers in a magnificent setting.
Not only would Charlottesville be a ghost town without Jefferson, there would be no vineyards. That all started with Jefferson, too. On the upside, ordinary people would be able to afford land in Albemarle County. Of course, who’d want to live there? It would be nothing but cornfields.
When I’m in my dotage recalling some of the most memorable events I witnessed in my life, I will count among them watching Mikhail Gorbachev give the Founder’s Day address on the Lawn at the university in April 1993.
The occasion marked the 250th birthday of Thomas Jefferson, whom Gorbachev said he revered.
I dread to think what will happen to commemorate Jefferson’s 300th birthday.
Yes, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. It’s a fact. And life was not pleasant for the enslaved people who kept Jefferson’s magnificent Monticello operating.
But let us not forget that as president, Jefferson halted the international slave trade. No small accomplishment. It was the first step toward emancipation.
A bust of Jefferson resides by my front door. I plan to keep it there.
Because, while Jefferson had flaws, he was a brilliant man with a dream of a republic the likes of which the world had never seen.
Whether you’re drinking lemonade, beer or wine today, I hope you’ll join me in a toast:
“To Mr. Jefferson!”
And the glorious 4th of July!