Informal Recognition

Informal Recognition

By the decree of somebody somewhere, on the authority of nothing and no one, today, August 10, is Herbert Hoover Day, National Biodiesel Day, Duran Duran Appreciation Day, National Shapewear Day, Update Your Bio Day and National Spoil Your Dog Day.

It’s also National Connecticut Day, and somehow I find this funniest of all. Who outside Connecticut, across this locally prideful nation, would celebrate National Connecticut Day? And who inside Connecticut would ask the nation to do so?

The holiday does raise the interesting question of how the rest of America perceives us. Our countrymen used to deride us as “nutmeggers,” but that habit seems to have died out everywhere except our Land of Steady Habits. Many in neighboring states today must know us by our official nickname, the Constitution State, but only because our license plates declare it, unexplained, as we road-trip through the region. Few if any of our fellow drivers know that it honors our place as the seat of “arguably the first written constitution in the world.”

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148 years after that arguable achievement, Connecticut’s constitutional bonafides became inarguable when Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, the representatives from our state, devised the Compromise that produced the US Constitution—and quite possibly salvaged “the American Experiment.” That alone justifies celebrating us, but I’m guessing the nation’s awareness of this justification is about as thin and fuzzy as the hair on Roger Sherman’s scrupulously shaved chin.

Even sparer, I expect, is knowledge of the many other exceptional contributions of Connecticut. Connecticutians (my preferred term, with the end pronounced like “cue shins”) invented interchangeable parts, the American English dictionary, vulcanized rubber, “the gun that won the west,” the commercial telephone exchange, the portable typewriter, the FM radio station, the modern helicopter, the frisbee, ESPN and the combat submarine in both its earliest (hand-powered) and latest (nuclear-powered) forms. But you’re almost as likely to throw a frisbee to California as you are to find an out-of-stater who knows much of that.

We can maybe sort of guess how others see us by looking at ourselves through the same lenses they do. Hollywood’s portrayals, infrequent as they are, tend to zoom in on Yale or the Gold Coast. Sports fans around the country surely know of UConn and its astonishing basketball success. Viewers of online pizza reviews may see us as the “pizza capital of the world” or at least a top contender. Observers of presidential politics probably know Connecticut as a “safe Democratic” state, though that’s as likely to engender disdain as it is applause.

Glimpses of raw individual data may emerge when we welcome out-of-state visitors. Texan cousins, here for a wedding some years ago, seemed awed by Connecticut’s lush greenery and surely took that impression home to their state full of plains and prairies.

But however positive their Connecticut feelings may be, I’m certain they’ve never heard of, much less been moved to celebrate, National Connecticut Day. Googling that term, in quotes, returns a rather pitiful 64 results (or 2,480 if you click click the option to show “entries very similar to the 64 already displayed”). Leading those results are websites devoted to listing America’s many unofficial holidays, often attended by deceptive, insipid, probably AI-generated, definitely search engine-optimized descriptions that tell you little if any relevant information (like who created the holiday and when and why they did it). Google also finds a number of trifles, sometimes just a few sentences long, from Connecticut media who’ve noted the holiday. But most notable, to me, is what Google doesn’t find: even a single reference to a real celebration of National Connecticut Day.

So unless you count as a bonafide celebration an offseason LinkedIn promotion offering discounted tickets to the Hartford Wolf Pack’s 2022 home opener—and you definitely shouldn’t—then it’s possible that, channeling the gumption of Connecticut innovators past, someone today could be the first person ever to throw a National Connecticut Day party.

All they’d have to do, before asking their guests to do the same, is RSVP “yes” to making history.

Written by Dan Mims. Image by SevenMaps/Shutterstock.

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