You may think that Maine, Massachusetts and Wisconsin are the only states to celebrate Patriot’s Day. But you’d be wrong.
Maine is actually the only state to celebrate Patriot’s Day. Massachusetts and Wisconsin, which are also taking the day off today, both celebrate it as Patriots’ Day. Every other state sits out the holiday, which marks the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War.
It is unclear just why Patriot’s Day ended up in Maine statute with the apostrophe in the wrong position, indicating that the holiday is held in honor of a single, unidentified patriot rather than all the patriots whose bravery and sacrifice won that day.
It is an issue important only to the most stickler of sticklers, grammarians mostly, the types who can’t help but feel out of sorts when they see a misplaced piece of punctuation. Everybody else is just happy to have an extra day off.
But it is a simple and easy fix, one that shouldn’t raise much ire, even with the considerable acrimony that exists at the State House. We support changing the name to Patriots’ Day, in order to properly pay respect to the soon-to-be Americans who fought at Lexington and Concord.
That the change also would put a halt to the accusations of misspelling and poor editing that come to this paper every year at this time would only be a bonus.
It is the first part of that argument — honoring the patriots and getting the grammar correct — that has grabbed Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, who introduced a bill last year that would have moved the apostrophe over one space.
In doing so, Johnson entered a debate that goes beyond Patriot’s Day. The placement of apostrophes is a confusing and contentious issue, it seems.
Presidents’ Day, too, is a source of debate. In federal law, the February holiday is still known as Washington’s birthday. No confusion about the apostrophe there.
But colloquially — and in thousands of car dealership ads — it’s known as President’s Day. Except when it is Presidents’ Day, to honor Washington and Lincoln. Or perhaps, everyone who has ever held the office, even Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan.
The same questions are raised with the weekly gatherings that sell local produce. It could be called a farmer’s market, except to some that means that one farmer owns the market. Or it could be called a farmers’ market, except to some that means a market only serving farmers.
But there is no such confusion surrounding Patriot’s Day. There is no doubt that it is meant to honor more than one patriot, and it is clear that the best way to do that is use the plural Patriots.
There shouldn’t be much to debate if Johnson’s bill makes it to the State House floor. It won’t this time around, however, as it was rejected for the second session, which is reserved for budget and emergency bills.
That’s too bad, as legislators, even in today’s partisan environment, could have made quick work of such a common-sense proposal, containing as it does no real second side to debate.
Until, however, someone suggests dropping the apostrophe altogether.