1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


The Tale of August

David Shields  August 31, 2010

August is almost gone. Football season is underway. Political season is heating up for November which makes me think about August almost as much as football season does. August is a good month, but itís a thief. Hence, the connection to politics. Here, let me explain. You'll appreciate this. Or not!

Before August was August it was Sextilis, and it stole a day from February to give it 31 days. In my opinion, August should give back that day to February.

But it isnít going to happen. The change was political. Itís like a tax. Once the government gets one it doesnít give it back.

Over 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar. It had gotten into a mess what with all the bad calculations the experts were making. Months were wandering all over the place. January, for example, had slipped down into the autumn.

On top of that, the politicians might just make the year longer in order to keep certain officials in office. On the other hand, if a despised politician were in office the guardian of the calendar might just whack off a few months to shorten his tenure.

Julius tried to put a stop to all that nonsense. He implemented the Julian calendar and for his efforts the Roman Senate gave him a month of his own. They renamed the month of Quintilis and called it Julius (July). And then they stabbed him!

But wouldnít you know it, Juliusís grandnephew, Augustus, comes along and wants a month of his own. After all, he had put a good whipping on Mark Anthony and that hussy, Cleopatra. Consummate politicians always pandering to the power structure, the Senate took the month of Sextilis and gave it to Auggie.

But wait, thatís not all! Since Juliusís month had 31 days, it was only right that Augustusís month at least equal it. Political correctness demanded it don't you know. So the Senate stole a day from February which at the time had 29 days (30 in a leap year), leaving poor February with a mere 28 days. Moreover, they fiddled with the other months to avoid having several 31-day months in succession.

Now you can say what you want, but stealing that day from February just wasnít right! Besides, it didnít fix anything. Even though the Julian calendar dominated for the next 1600 years, man still found himself confused about whether he was coming or going. And the months continued to slide out of synch with the seasons.

So in 1582 Pope Gregory instituted further reforms and gave us the Gregorian calendar. But the Pope didnít take any steps to return that pilfered day to February. Itís no wonder. By this time church and politics were inseparable, and keeping man confused about whether he was coming or going was still a much-desired end, almost as much so as it is today.

Nothing has changed. Politicians still pander to whatever group they perceive to have the power to keep them in office and work overtime to keep us all confused. None of this would have happened if they hadnít taken that day from February. August should give it back! But, again, they won't!

Moreover, folks are now predicting that the President has an ďOctober surpriseĒ for us. You know what that is, don't you? In American political jargon, an ďOctober surpriseĒ is a news event with the potential to influence the outcome of an election....

Just goes to show you that politicians pay attention to months and stuff and they don't want anybody messing with them. But if ever it becomes clear that a 28-day February is not advantageous for one of the political parties you can bet your last fold of toilet paper that February might get its day back.