Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Lincoln’s B-day: mannequins in S.D., erosion in Calif.

Most public schools across America will be off on Monday, since it’s Presidents’ Day. Some schools therefore got festivities going in unique ways for the holiday, including a “mannequin challenge” at a high school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, named after one of those presidents, The Lincoln High School Statesman reports—or rather, shows.

Each class had a chance to win a birthday cake party at the Abe Lincoln Mannequin Challenge, presented by the Patriot Pride Committee. School counselors voted on the winners for each grade, reported Karli Soyland, a photographer for the student newspaper.

Lincoln was born in Kentucky, grew up in Indiana, and lived most of his life in Illinois, before going to Washington. Two of his speeches, the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address, are counted among the most important speeches ever made by an American president. In reference to today’s issues, he also said this:

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.

There’s no consensus on where to put the apostrophe for the holiday’s name. The Chicago Manual of Style says to use the plural possessive, Presidents’ Day (my personal choice), but the Associated Press Stylebook says to use just the plural as a noun that serves as an adjective modifying day, Presidents Day (the day is for presidents but doesn’t belong to them).

Lincoln’s 208th birthday wasn’t much of a happy celebration for students in California, though, where recent heavy rain and snow can’t be absorbed so quickly into a ground that is parched from drought conditions over the past several years. Evacuations, in fact, closed several schools in Yuba, Sutter, and Butte counties this week, although most of the schools were off on Monday for the normal observance of Lincoln’s Birthday.

Hiram W Johnson HS students at Folsom Dam aux. spillway, 2014 (US Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr CC)

Lake Oroville, a reservoir held in place by the nation’s tallest dam, has been a part of these communities for decades, but what once brought fireworks and salmon festivals now threatens to bring disaster to towns around Marysville and Yuba City. Two main spillways flow from the reservoir, and both of them are now threatened—by erosion that has resulted from many factors, including a drought over the past few years and heavy rain and snow in recent months.

One hole from erosion is about the size of a football field and 40 feet deep; it won’t be easy to fix. If the dam fails, entire communities will be under water, and officials noticed water starting to wash over the wall on Saturday. When they saw that, they opened a third spillway, normally reserved only for emergencies, which there hasn’t been in the dam’s 48 years.

The Oroville Mercury Register (Associated Press) reports that about 200,000 people had to be evacuated Sunday, allowing officials to race to repair the damaged spillways before more rains arrive on Thursday. Crews are said to be working around the clock to keep the dam intact.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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