Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hauntingly Familiar?

Does this building look familiar? Imagine two of them standing next to each other. Yes, it indeed has more than a passing resemblance to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. But this building is half a continent away.

This is the BoK Tower, home of the BoK Financial Group in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At one fourth the footprint and half the height of the Twin Towers, this building has many of the same architectural features, including the two-story marble lobby and vertical lines. And it's no wonder. It was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the WTC, Minoru Yamasaki.

I worked in the BoK tower from 1992-1994, when the original WilTel had headquarters in the building. I always noticed it resembled the WTC, but was a lone, smaller version of the iconic buildings that once stood proudly on the south end of New York's Manhattan Island. Now it stands a haunting reminder in the heartland of its big brothers who became ground zero in the worst terrorist attack on the United States.

George Washington's Birthday

George Washington, Revolutionary War General, First President of the United States under the Constitution, and often called "The Father of our Country", was born 278 years ago today. But what a lot of people don't know, is that February 22 was not the original date. Washington was actually born on February 11, 1731. In 1752, Great Britain and its colonies, including those along the Atlantic seaboard of North America, moved from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one. That shifted dates by 11 days, and thus moving Washington's birthday to February 22.

When I was a child in school, we had holidays on February 12 for Lincoln's birthday, and again on February 22 for Washington's birthday. Then the Uniform Holiday Bill of 1968 came along and moved several holidays, including Washington's birthday, to designated Mondays rather than fixed dates. Although there was a proposal to rename the holiday, "Presidents Day", that part didn't happen. Despite common thought, the day is still officially in celebration of Washington's Birthday.

So even though President Washington's birthday has moved around a lot and we celebrate it on the third Monday of February, today's date will always be the one fixed in my mind.

Read more about George Washington's birthday from the National Archives by CLICKING HERE.