By Wm. Michael Dixon
Tribune Recorder Leader
Last week, we asked our readers to tell us how long the United States had been observing Daylight Savings Time. A simple question with a not-so-simple answer. The first time the United States observed Daylight Savings Time (DST) was in 1918 towards the end of the first world war. The United States observed DST in 1918 and 1919 from the end of march until nearly the end of October but then gave up the practice until the next world war came around. In February of 1942 the United States switched from Standard time to “War Time,” a form of year-round Daylight Savings Time that ran until September 25, 1945 when the Amendment to the War Time Act reverted everyone back to Standard time. The years of 1945 to 1966 were a grey area when it comes to Daylight Savings Time, with some areas observing it and other areas not. With no standardization of DST the chaos of differing times between adjoining municipalities was fuel enough for Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Uniform Time Act on April 13, 1966. The Uniform Time Act standardized the start and end of DST. The Act did allow states to exempt themselves from the time change. The change held strong until the 70’s when DST was employed earlier than normal in an attempt to save energy during the energy crisis. Michigan resisted the change in 1966 until 1973 when they finally adopted the practice. The change was unpopular with citizens and in 1976 the original schedule was resumed. The most recent change happened in 2007 when DST was extended by roughly four more weeks, reflecting the current schedule for how we now observe Daylight Savings Time. Fast Forward to today and there are multiple states, including Michigan, with pending legislation aimed at nixing the practice altogether. So how long has the United State been observing Daylight Savings Time? It depends on who you ask, because until 2006 parts of Indiana were still exempted from the time change, so does it count as the United States observing DST if Indiana isn’t? Is any state observing DST considered the United States observing DST? Some places have observed DST from 1942 until present, plus the two years of War Time from 1918 and 1919 would add up to 83 years. If you consider the Uniform Time Act as the starting point (you still must consider the years on War time) then the answer would be 62. Truthfully the answer is all up to you how you define the parameters, a rather unsatisfactory answer to a seemingly simple question.