Let's show some love for the month of August.
David Plotz of Slate, in an essay that first appeared 10 years ago and was reprinted Aug. 15 in the St. Petersburg Times, referred to August as the "Mississippi of the calendar'' with dismal, hot weather (clearly he's never spent January in Syracuse, N.Y., or he'd never bemoan the summer humidity), a dreary, vacation-free work schedule and a history of downer news including the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the death of entertainment icons Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
Clearly, the author needs a water balloon drenching, a head-first dive across a backyard Slip 'n Slide, a kayak trip on the Weeki Wachee River or perhaps an evening spent sitting on the grass of an amphitheater while a still-living rock icon wails on a Fender Stratocaster.
For sports fans, August isn't the end of the summer, it is the beginning of a new season for the nation's favorite (football) and the world's favorite (futbol). Barclay's Premier League soccer debuted its 2011-12 season on Aug. 13, a day after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their preseason by whipping the Kansas City Chiefs. The high school age boys of autumn suited up for the first time 13 days ago. August is to football fans what March is to baseball lovers – lots of training and little anxiety. During the month, everyone's prospects appear brighter.
August also is about rock 'n' roll and not just because of the untimely demise of Elvis Presley – or his mistaken birthday if you're U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. August brought us Woodstock — Aug. 15-18, 1969 — the cultural-changing outdoor festival on a farm in Bethel, N.Y. that featured 32 acts and more than half a million people. A dozen years later, MTV debuted in August 1981, and television has never been the same.
The Beatles toured the United States in August 1964, '65 and '66, and the 35th anniversary of their final concert performance is a week from Tuesday. That famous Shea Stadium show? It was in August 1965.
Today, August is synonymous with outdoor concerts at amphitheaters and state fairs across the nation.
While the topic is music, let's point out that Francis Scott Key was born Aug. 1, 1779, making this month the origin of the national anthem. There might not be a nation to sing about if not for August. Christopher Columbus set sail to explore for a New World on Aug. 3, 1492. If Columbus had left in July, Plotz might be complaining today about the dearth of federal holidays in October.
Neil Armstrong, President Bill Clinton, Davey Crocket and Orville Wright all entered the world in the month of August. Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream'' speech Aug. 28, 1963.
If January is for weight-loss resolutions then August should be set aside for eating. There are days to celebrate waffles, water melons, filet mignon, ice cream sandwiches, sponge cake, peach pie and banana splits. Left off the list is fresh corn, the kind that isn't ready to harvest and eat until August.
After dinner, head to a movie, though Plotz has a valid point about the quality of August releases. But, they all can't be clunkers. Wizard of Oz premiered in August 1939. If you'd rather be outdoors than inside a multi-screen movieplex, the nighttime skies are filled with brilliant light shows. The shower of Perseid meteors is an annual August-only event.
It makes for a great date night.
Feb. 14 shouldn't be set aside exclusively to celebrate romance. At least not in our household. The two offspring in our domicile were born in late April and in early May. You do the math.
Slate also laments there is no holiday in August. The calendar on the bulletin board above my desk lists only National Friendship Day as worthy of a notation in August. Maybe the focus is too secular.
Aug. 1 is the beginning of Ramadan, and Aug. 15 is the feast of the Assumption of Mary, a Roman Catholic Church celebration of Christ's mother dying and ascending to Heaven. It's a public holiday in many European countries. Of course, in the United States, the American bishops didn't even require church attendance in 2011, since the 15th fell on a Monday. In other words, a holiday from the mandatory mass.
Besides, Florida's public school year begins in August. In Pasco and Hernando counties, the first day of class is Monday. For parents everywhere, is there a better holiday than that?