I was jogging by the local church, St. Leo the Great, when I happened to read their latest posted message (you know what I mean, those ersatz signs you see in front of everything from Amoco dealerships and motel chains to schools and churches that list sales and specials as well as obscure lines of poetry or proclamations of "great" import).
Anyway, the St. Leo’s message board got my attention. It read, "Come celebrate Thanksgiving, the only real American holiday." And that got me thinking. Oh really? What about the Fourth of July? What other country celebrates that holiday? Or, how about Memorial Day? Labor Day? Or, even Groundhog Day, which is a big deal in Punxatawny, Pa. Seems to me they’re all uniquely American holidays.
The problem with making a declarative statement that is so obviously false is that it invites speculation. For example, one might think: "If they’re mistaken about Thanksgiving being the only uniquely American holiday, what else are they getting wrong?"
While St. Leo’s is only one small cog in the juggernaut that is the Catholic Church, its misstatement underscores that an organization’s image and reputation is only as strong as its weakest link. And, that a mistake in one area could lead to confusion in others.
Will St. Leo’s correct their signage? Probably not. But, here’s hoping that Uncle Sam or Punxatawny Phil are out jogging and spot it in time to draw a line through the word "Thanksgiving" and add their own uniquely American holidays as well.