I understand why the average John Q. and Jane Doe Public are more interested in those last three dates than in Abe Lincoln or Georgia Washington’s birthday.
After all, who wants to throw a party to celebrate the ratification of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution that occurred on Feb. 3, 1913? It established the income tax. No church bells or dancing in the streets greeted that announcement.
There might be some fun events, though, in recognizing National Heart Month, Library Lovers’ Month, or Black History Month.
February seemed to be a hot month for the organization of organizations. The NAACP was founded on Feb. 12, 1909, although the 15th Amendment had granted the right to vote to citizens regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude on Feb. 3, 1870.
The League of Women Voters formed on Feb. 14, 1920. There was no need for that group before that date since there were no women voters until that time with one exception — and that exception involved a February date as well.
Utah women were given the vote on Feb. 12, 1870, just nine days after the word “citizen” excluded them in Washington.
But my favorite commemoration day in February is Georgia Day, Feb. 12. It always gets lost somewhere between Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day.
It’s often cold or snowy, not a good day for flying the Georgia flag, if you’re persistent enough to have found one. (You would think Wal-Mart would keep those in stock. Think again. The clerks, and apparently the management, have never heard of Georgia Day.)
I recently noticed a short item about some fifth-graders going to visit the Georgia Capitol in downtown Atlanta and was reminded of my own experience in that regard.
Some details from my trip have stayed with me all these years. It was probably in the fall of 1944 or spring of 1945. I don’t think we went while the Legislature was in session.
The term “field trip” was almost unheard of at the time. If I’m not mistaken, bus drivers owned their buses and worked under contract with school systems.
I trusted and respected my bus driver, Mr. Poteet, much the same as I did my teachers and principal. When I got on that big bus with Mr. Poteet in the driver’s seat, it made my day.
And to get to ride all the way to Atlanta on the Dixie Highway with my classmates (and my mother who couldn’t let me go without her), was the thrill of a lifetime.
To see the Capitol with its gold dome, and to actually go inside that spacious rotunda and climb those stairs was such a treat.
I didn’t go again for many years, and although some things had changed, it was déjà vu for me. Renovations and cosmetic changes make my memories somewhat muddled, but on my last visit a few years ago I managed to look around at the sections featuring Georgia’s natural resources.
There is a beautiful specimen of an indigo bunting, a bird that is either very scarce or very adept at hiding. I happened to find this very bird soon after it had been hit by a car in the parking lot at a local restaurant.
I called around to try to decide what to do with it, and finally talked with Mr. Fleming at the state Capitol. He advised me to put it in a plastic Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer until he could come to Woodstock to pick it up. So I did as he said, and he came in just a few days. And the rest is history.
I must wonder if it is still there, but I’m not going down to see, at least not for now. (You know what they used to say about the Georgia Legislature, and keeping the women and children indoors!)
But back to the basics. General James Edward Oglethorpe, with some 100 other Englishmen, landed at what is now Savannah on Feb. 12, 1733, according to Chase’s Calendar of Events.
Naming the new colony Georgia for England’s King George II, Oglethorpe was organizer and first governor of the colony and founder of the city of Savannah.
Georgia Day is sometimes called Oglethorpe Day. But with either name, it’s a perfect day to fly the Georgia flag. And Happy February.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.