A Traffic Jam of Names

Thomas A. Kempis didn't live in Washington, that's for sure. If he had, he would never have penned his most famous line: "Sic transit gloria mundi." (So passes away the glory of this world.)

Washington (the city) is in a tizzy over granite immortality - attempts to halt the transitting of gloria by naming buildings and other objects for major and bit political players.

The immediate focus is GOP-Democrat haggling over naming rebuilt Washington National Airport for Ronald Reagan; de-naming the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building; and possibly naming Justice Department headquarters for Robert Kennedy.

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The problem is quickly apparent. Time and federal expansion have produced too many new Cabinet posts, agency heads, ideological heroes - and accumulated presidents. Furthermore, contemporaries don't want to wait for history to vote on entry to this political Cooperstown. Too much risk their hero will shrink with time.

There's one bit of name-blurring we'd like to reverse. Let the national holiday too often called "Presidents' Day" proudly wear its official name: Washington's Birthday.

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