Thursday, I’m sure you know, was National Say Hi to Joe Day. This is a great thing about America. Every day is a holiday. Today, for instance, is Zipper Day. I don’t know how you would go about celebrating Zipper Day. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t really want to hear any suggestions.
Saturday is a good day for holidays. It is both Hairstyle Appreciation Day and National Honesty Day.
Gotta be honest: I don’t see how those two can work on the same day.
There are holidays for everything in this great land of ours. In the next few weeks, according to various Internet sites, we will celebrate Lumpy Rug Day, International Tuba Day, National Grape Popsicle Day and, of course, Lost Sock Memorial Day. You know, I’ve been keeping this one great sock in the desperate and pathetic hope that its mate, which has been MIA for three years, would finally be rescued and brought home.
On May 9, I hope I can find the courage to say goodbye.
Obviously, though, I have a special feeling about National Say Hi to Joe Day. The day was invented in Alaska, of course, because many great things have been invented in Alaska such as … well … many great things. According to a fine story in the Kenai Peninsula Clarion, an Alaska man named Richard Martin built a better pooper scooper with a cut-down antifreeze jug.
It is that sort of Alaska ingenuity that led Joe Ewing to come up with Hi Joe Day. He was in a high school class, and the teacher gave everyone a project to write a letter to the president of the United States. Well, while most of the kids spent their time writing letters about minor things like the war in Iraq, Joe decided to launch a holiday.
“The idea is to celebrate the average Joe-ness of America,” Joe Ewing says. He then points out something that all Joes know — we’re everywhere. Average Joe. Joe Schmo. Joe Boxer. Joe Millionaire. Sloppy Joe. Bazooka Joe. Joe Friday. Joe Cool. Joltin’ Joe. Super Joe. Hey Joe, where are you going with that gun in your hand? Set ’em up Joe, I got a little story that you ought to know. And, you know, Cup of Joe.
“Joe is America,” Joe Ewing says. “By saying hi to Joe, we can bring America together.”
Well, the idea so caught the eye of President Bush that he immediately sprang into action and had some low-level assistant send back a form letter (“We will continue to work to keep America safe and free so you can pursue your dreams”). But Joe Ewing now had his mission in life. He promptly wrote to the governor of Alaska, Frank H. Murkowski. But apparently Frank was too busy celebrating the grand achievements of Richard Martin’s pooper scooper to get the ball rolling on Hi Joe Day.
“Since you are seeking a national holiday,” Frank wrote, “the state would not have the authority to declare such a day.”
Still, Joe Ewing went on. He picked the date April 28, because he said that was a good day for Joes, a day Joe DiMaggio hit a bunch of home runs, an important day in Joe Boxer history, and all that. He wrote to newspapers. He put calls into some of the networks. He was Joey Appleseed, spreading the good word of Joe.
And, against the odds, it started to take off. Joe Ewing says he started to get photos in the mail from people who spotted “Hi Joe!” banners. He says Jay Leno told a Hi Joe Day joke on “The Tonight Show.” His Web site (www.sayhitojoe.com) has received more than 600,000 hits in the last month. He says 20 states celebrated Hi Joe Day last year. A college in Chicago closed down the dorms for a Say Hi to Joe celebration, which included, naturally, pie throwing
“I don’t tell people how to celebrate the holiday,” Joe Ewing says.
Joe is at Brigham Young University now, and he says that the holiday takes up a lot of his time. But he thinks it’s time well spent. “Everyone is an average Joe,” he says. “It’s not about the name. It’s about what the name represents.”
I asked him if he would have come up with the holiday if his name was not Joe.
“Probably not,” he said.