The latest in not-quite-what-they-had-in-mind Whitehouse petitions is to officially recognize International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Starting off as a goof between friends by John Baur and Mark Summers back in 1995, September 19th was chosen as it was already burned into Mark's head as his ex-wife's birthday. Talk Like a Pirate Day became International Talk Like a Pirate Day in 2002 when the originators swindled syndicated columnist Dave Barry into becoming the official spokesperson.
According to the origin story on their website, he was on to them from the beginning. "Have you guys actually DONE anything about this? Or are you counting on me to carry the ball here?" Dave asked in a response to their original sales pitch.
The two decided to go with flattery in their reply, which usually works well with pirates. "Well, we've talked like pirates every Sept. 19, and we've encouraged our several friends to,” said John. Mark added the piratically brown-nosed, “We are dinghy-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guys, but you, Dave ... you are like a frigate-huge-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guy."
Dave Barry then wrote an article about Talk Like a Pirate Day and it blew up all over the world. It was a fun, new idea, and Pirates of the Caribbean had yet to be released, though its release the following year most certainly helped to bring Talk Like a Pirate Day to the forefront. Still, while all of this is fun and interesting, it’s not a reason to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day as an official national holiday.
Try this for reason, then.
Pirates played an important part in the very founding of the United States of America. During the revolution, it was pirates who supplied the Continental Army with powder and guns. It was privateers sailing with letters of marque from the colonies working as America’s first navy. Those same gentlemen-of-fortune captured as many POW’s as Washington’s army before they got to the front lines.
During the War of 1812, Jean Lafitte was a French pirate admiral with a fleet of ships at his disposal. He took up residence in Louisiana and had begun to consider himself an American when the war began. Lafitte was wanted for tax evasion, had been tried, found guilty and escaped to be wanted again, but with the war there was opportunity. When General Andrew Jackson arrived in New Orleans for the impending battles he offered Lafitte and any men who serve under him protecting the Gulf a full pardon. Without Lafitte’s ships the American forces would most certainly have been overwhelmed.
This is truly just a summary, for much more can be found in the rich history of piratical lore. While not the romantic archetypes that we see portrayed on the silver screen, they weren’t the bloodthirsty cutthroats that is considered the more accurate view... not always... not entirely, anyway. The fact remains that pirates played an important part in the founding, and continued safety, of this country. A fun, nationally recognized holiday would be a perfect excuse for educators to make more of this known.