What—and whom—do we reverence?
A question I asked in class the other day: is the Federal mandate to celebrate Constitution Day unconstitutional?
Which power in article I does it come from?
Wow. A labor of love! Fine analysis, and so much here to chew on... ...such that, I have a mere SIX things to say!
One, though this aspect has been largely forgotten, Thanksgiving Day is more connected to the Founding than is generally known. It begins with Washington's proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving, primarily thanksgiving for a successful Founding! If awareness of this aspect could be restored, it could be seen as the "latter-bookend" holiday of the Founding: the 4th commemorates its beginning, as well as its revolution/creed, whereas Thanksgiving commemorates its success/finalization, seen in the victory over the British, but finally, in the states' ratification of the 1787 Constitution and in our form of government. Further, because it is connected to our Christian heritage, it also symbolizes what Washington said in his Farewell Address about America and religion--to shift to the language of the Pledge (which is not far from that of the Farewell Address), a nation "under" a "God" understood in a broadly Judeo-Christian sense is one that naturally thanks God. (The language now in our popular songs about "Thanking the UNIVERSE" is not yet, thank God, in our national holidays or creeds!) Of course, if this shift to a more Founding-aware appreciation of Thanksgiving were to happen, we might find that the idea of Constitution Day, which some want to make a national holiday--isn't this the only idea for a new holiday that has been more pushed by conservative groups than by than Democrat-coalition ones?--would become superfluous.
Two, by downplaying the politics around the adoption of each holiday, you avoid seeing the connection of several of these to interest-groups, groups with immediate grievances at the time of adoption (Labor Day, and Veterans' Day) and others focused on interests tied to an ethnic identity. Covertly, Columbus Day is the Italian-American day, overtly, the unofficial holiday of St. Patrick's Day is the Irish-American day, as the also unofficial Cinco-de-Mayo was for a time the Mexican-American one--that last one's changing, as Latino-interest groups seem now to be pushing "Culture Day," aka Dia des Culturas, as a thing in the schools. MLK Jr. Day, as you point out, always had more logic and pan-American character to it than, say, Columbus Day, representing the arc of the Civil Rights Movement, but there can be no denying that for a time it was regarded it as the African-American day by many, although Black History Month, and then Juneteenth, complicated that.
Three, you're also avoiding the complication that all the UNOFFICIAL, perhaps state- or locality- recognized, but certainly national-in-character holidays or months bring into it. I work in the public schools, so I know that Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, and Valentine's Day are Big Deals; so is, although this is diminishing a little, Black History Month; and Pride Month, although only partially and controversially acknowledged in the schools, has become huger than huge everywhere. International Women's Day is yet another federally unofficial, but growing very popular, thing.
Four, you're right that Juneteenth is unique in all this. And while one can admire your effort to articulate a logic for it, as complementing the hero day of MLK and the "arc" of the Civil Rights "Perfected-Founding" the way July 4th complements the hero day of George Washington/Abraham Lincoln and the "arc" of the Original Founding, the bottom-line is that it needs to be rescinded ASAP. There was ZERO debate about its adoption by our representatives in 2021--this is why so many Americans this summer were like "huh?" when it was a day off for the first time--there had been so little discussion they didn't even know the change had been made. The MANNER of its adoption, which reflects the basic betrayal of American democratic say and liberal rights during the last four years, a period which if American constitutional democracy survives will be regretted and repented of in general, is far more important than what it is purported to BE ABOUT. White and black Americans had no more to say about it than the painting of big BLM letters on streets in various cities across America during the "summer of BLM." Less, actually. Moreover, as any number of conservative commentators, many Afro-American, noted this June, in several ways it just doesn't make sense. The federalization took a special and organic cultural event, special to a small-ish number of blacks, and made it a matter of awkwardness to one and all, a forced celebration. I liked Juneteenth when it was a half-hidden festival, an aspect of certain subcultures, and I deeply love the posthumous Ralph Ellison novel named after it. But as an official Federal holiday, it symbolizes the lack of democratic discussion that has became characteristic of our regime circa the 2010s and 2020s, as well as the embarrassing and bigotry-of-low-expectations URGENCY so many progressivists and sophisticates display to accommodate whatever they take to be black political demands, especially the latest low-cost symbolic demands, and especially in the wake of riot-protests.
Five, in general, new holidays will only multiply if we don't set our foot against them generally--Christians have some insight into this, I regret to say, due to the gradual multiplication of special days in our church calendars.
Six, that said, a Susan B. Anthony Day could be a good thing. More American and potentially "harmonizing" (see our discussion last week of what TJ said about his writing of the Dec) than International Women's Day. Anthony stands for the feminism strongly implied by the natural rights theory of our Founding, and aspects of it were (see the woman's-right-to-pursue-employment-as-a-lawyer case, Bradwell v. Illinois, 1873) demanded anyhow by a correct reading of the 14th. Maybe trade Labor Day out--the days of the unions and of our accepting categories a bit too like Marxist ones are long gone--to bring it in?