Free Inquiry
Appeared in Secular Humanist Bulletin, vol 21 issue 3

Oregon’s ‘Day of Reason’

Frank Pasquale

The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 3 (Fall 2005).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005, the first day of summer, was declared “A Day of Reason” in Oregon. The designation was originally the brainchild of Portland citizen Gerald Gage, who felt that “If we have days celebrating Thanksgiving, Leif Erikson, or the pickle, it seemed fitting to have one that celebrates the human mind and the power of reason to solve human problems.”

Gage began to promote the idea of a Day of Reason at the local, state, and national levels in 1999. In 2001, then-Mayor Vera Katz declared June 23 “A Day of Reason” in the City of Portland. Gage was then joined in the effort by Oregon Representative Carolyn Tomei, who felt it valuable to draw attention to the role that reason has played in human history and progress. “We tend to take this for granted, but reason—and reasonableness—are essential for improving the human condition here in Oregon and worldwide, day by day,” she said.

In 2002, then-Governor John Kitzhaber declared “A Day of Reason” in the State of Oregon on June 21. This has been an annual designation in the state since then. “The choice of this particular date was deliberate,” says Mr. Gage. “As the summer solstice, it is the day of the year with the most daylight. Reason lights our way forward.”

In observance of “A Day of Reason” in Portland, Oregon, citizen and humanist celebrant Pat Burnet delivered the opening convocation in the Oregon House of Representatives. She spoke on the importance of reason, understanding, knowledge, and compassion in human affairs.

Governor Ted Kulongoski’s proclamation reads:

  • WHEREAS: Application of reason offers a hope for developing and implementing intelligent, humane, and ethical interactions among people; and
  • WHEREAS: Philosophies of reason were emphasized when writing the Constitution of the United States of America and those of its several states; and
  • WHEREAS: Most citizens value reason and seek to apply it in making decisions and resolving problems in their lives; and
  • WHEREAS: Educational programs emphasize acquisition of reasoning skills in preparing for one’s future.
  • NOW, THEREFORE: I, Theodore R. Kulongoski, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim June 21, 2005, to be A Day of Reason in Oregon and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.”

(Affixed with the Great Seal of the State of Oregon and witnessed: Theodore R. Kulongoski, Governor; Bill Bradbury, Secretary of State.)

Frank Pasquale, a resident of Oregon, writes frequently for the Secular Humanist Bulletin.

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