So, today's the 497th anniversary of the birth of England's Queen Mary, Elizabeth Tudor's miserable, "bloody" half-sister and golly, what a sad and dreadful, star-crossed bunch there's was. How sane and lucky many another family is by comparison, no? It was on this day in history that physicist Alessandro "Mr. Battery" Volta was born, in 1745, a good 103 years before Louis Comfort Tiffany came into the world. February 18 marks the deathdays, too, of lovely painter Fra Angelico and revolutionary Martin Luther, who exited the world through the celestial door marked 18 Feb, in 1455 and 1546, respectively. Just for you to know. A pair of the best character actors ever to glower down from the silver screen, Edward Arnold and Adolphe Menjou, were both born on the 18th of February, 1890, two years before that glad-hander Wendell Wilkie was born, only to be well and truly thrashed by FDR in the 1940 election..
And speaking of Franklin D., it appears to be Presidents' Day, splitting the difference as we do between the commemorations of the great No. 1 and No. 16. In the stores, the tired Valentine candies are discounted. Soon there'll be green shamrocks, pastel eggs and bunnies. Here's a slim window in the culture's cavalcade; today there will be a pause in the beleaguered postal service. There will be silly Abes and Georges in advertisements for furniture, cars, and appliances. Behind and beyond it all were the steadfast pioneer of untrodden ground, of revolution and dare I say it: nation-building. And the grievous, complex stalwart who held it all together for a little while longer. I cannot help but think of all of the other gents who've held the office, each of whom represents a chapter in our ongoing, bumptious experiment in self-governance. And anyway, so the world turns and the calendar continues, And every day of it is a chance to remember those who've gone before. So let there be books, all of our books in which the stories of those vanished lives are shown and told, pictured and explained, again and again for our young readers, for our ever-renewing citizenry. Long live the republic.