Smedley Butler Day? Is this for real?

I got this semi-kooky email about Smedley Butler, but then got interested because I like history. There’s a link in it, but basically he was a Marine for 30 years, resigned as a general, then went into politics and became an anti-war whistleblower. Anyway I think a holiday is out of his reach, but my question is, do you think teachers should teach about him in school? Seems like it might make them cynical, but then again I have a high-schooler who comes home with a head full of political fluff. So I guess I think they should. But it bothers me, like when they found out Santa isn’t real. Here’s the email:

Please take the time to learn about this important American hero who twice won the Medal of Honor in service of our country. He deserves to be recognized as a true and honorable American. Our feeling is that if you haven’t heard of Smedley Butler’s place in history, it’s because our educations are sorely lacking.

We feel that Smedley’s life and works should be widely taught in schools and that a day should be named in his honor. If you’d like to be a friend of Smedley please pass this message along. We don’t organize.
Friends of Smedley Butler
Happy Smedley Day!
There’s a lot of interesting info about him out there, like this.
“In 1931, Butler talked informally after a speech, and discussed how European conquerors became drunk with power and became “mad dogs.” He related an apparently true story told him by Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. Vanderbilt spent time with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and they were driving in an armored car through the Italian countryside, with Mussolini driving. During their drive, Mussolini hit and killed a child. Mussolini did not even stop the car, telling Vanderbilt as he grabbed his knee, “Never look back, Mr. Vanderbilt, never look back in life.”[21] Mussolini passed off his hit and run incident with the observation that one life was insignificant when compared to the affairs of state.”

Smedley Butler was a very, very interesting figure in American history. In the 1930s there was a group of plutocrats considering a coup d’etat against President Roosevelt; they only abandoned their idea because Butler who was to be their frontman wouldn’t join them. Butler also earned the Medal of Honor twice, one of the few men to have done so and there is a legitimate argument that he was entilted to a third which was not awarded because of a temporary glitch in the law governing its award. But a holitday? No. A subject for discussion in American history classes? Maybe for 5 minutes, when there is time.

I’ve read another article about Butler that talked about his ability to procure and distribute resources during WWI, in particular wooden slats to keep soldiers out of the mud. Most vividly, I remember that he was so respected for his efforts on behalf of the soldiers, that one man said of him, “I’d cross hell on a slat if Butler gave the word.” Sounds like he was a heck of a guy. I can’t see a federal holiday, but if we can have a National Broccoli Week or whatever, surely we can have a Smedley Butler Day.

There’s a question as to how serious that was, though. Butler had a tendency to exaggerate.

I don’t think they are proposing a federal holiday, just a day of recognition, like General Pulaski Memorial Day or Wright Brothers Day.

The best way to honor Butler would be for public libraries and schools to pass out free copies of his booklet.

Even back then he said he was fighting for corporations. He said war was a racket to make the rich even more wealthy. it is a lesson we never learn. We have to quit warring. Iraq is a corporate war for oil.

Hey there’s a Smedley Butler song on youtube! I guess everything really is on there. Some other documentaries about him, too.