January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States. It is a Federal holiday and Federal offices are closed, as well as the associated suspects; banks, etc. I am off from work today as it is a recognized company holiday.

Back when I was working for Frontier Communications I was a bit surprised by the number of employees who elected to not take this day off, as the particular area of the company I worked in delegated the day as an optional holiday. I worked in a 24/7 Network Operations Center. When I first started there I always thought MLK Jr Day would be handled like a weekend day, much like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. are handled. But the NOC Manager felt MLK Jr wasn’t a super important holiday and therefore it was decided it could be a regular work day and one could take the holiday time elsewhere in the year.

This always bothered me.

Can you imagine if the same suggestion was offered around Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or any of the other traditional U.S. holidays? There would have been voices of objection and people carrying on about a lack of patriotism, etc. if the same approach was used for Independence Day.

As a manager I get that the timing of MLK Jr Day puts a small hiccup in the momentum one is usually trying to build at the beginning of the year. But in reality it’s not that big of a deal. We pause on this day to remember a man who made significant, important contributions to the fabric of our society. Choosing to skip his birthday remembrance as a “really not important holiday” is kind of rude and revealing of why his contributions are important to begin with.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

The full text of MLK Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech can be read here.