Paging Mr. Yuengling.

I'm wondering if he's looking for a holiday to promote.

One of his competitors, Budweiser, is a leading supporter of the Opening Day Day movement. It's a campaign led by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith to petition the government to create a federal holiday (complete with a day off, of course) on the first day of the Major League Baseball season. In the event of a rainout on opening day, would Opening Day Day be held a day later, and would that actually result in two days off?

Opening Day Day is fine as far as it goes, considering that baseball is traditionally considered to be America's national pastime. OK, I'll sign that petition, but it's about time we get our priorities straight. There is another holiday we should be creating.

It's - ta-da! - American Newspaper Day, a holiday that could/should be celebrated every year on Sept. 25, the anniversary of the publication in 1690 of the first newspaper in America.

That newspaper, "Publick Occurrences: Both Forreign and Domestick" (no, those are not typos; those old colonial types spelled funny), was published in Boston by Richard Pierce. Benjamin Harris was editor.

Tens of thousands of newspapers have come (and, sadly, many have gone) over the past 400-plus years. "Publick Occurrences" came and went quickly - just one edition - but it was nevertheless the first true presentation of "the news." That's certainly worth celebrating.

The fact is, none of the freedoms we enjoy would ever exist without a free press. Our system of checks and balances could never have survived without the intense and constant scrutiny of journalists and the generations of thoughtful citizens who read newspapers. For more than four centuries now, readers have been variously informed, educated, inspired, entertained, edified, bored, bemused, titillated, challenged, angered and disgusted by newspapers. But don't you encounter these same feelings just by observing life? Newspapers are a mirror of their communities and the nation. Those who say it would have been a different country without newspapers miss the point. History shapes newspapers, and newspapers shape history.

There is already, of course, the observance of National Newspaper Carrier Day on Sept. 4, and I'm told National Buy a Newspaper Day has been promoted on Facebook. A worthy cause indeed!

Good wishes (and even homemade baked goods) are always accepted with gratitude on National Columnists Day on April 18.

National Newspaper Week is held each year in October to remind people just how important newspapers are to the communities they serve.

But a day off from work would take our celebration of newspapers to a whole new level. Newspapers are so indispensable that an official holiday is not overkill.

l will have a beer with my newspaper, thank you! The fact is, many people have done just that, whether sitting down at the kitchen table after supper or picking up a random copy in their favorite friendly neighborhood tavern. Is there any doubt empty six-packs were nearby on more than one occasion while Sound Off calls were being made?

There's nothing wrong with drinking a can of beer on American Newspaper Day while you peruse that day's edition from cover to cover. Warning: Even if you have just one drink, you probably need a designated driver. If you drink the whole six-pack, you might even need a designated reader.

Just how should American Newspaper Day be observed?

A parade could be held on each town's main street. In lieu of a traditional patriotic address, that day's daily edition could be read from cover to cover. The town thespians could do a dramatic interpretation of the day's news. If anything lends itself to improv, it's a meeting of the Northumberland County commissioners.

Since Sept. 25 still falls within the regular baseball season, newspapers could be sold in baseball stadiums, with vendors traipsing through the stands alternating between "getcher ice cold beer here" and "getcher red hot news here."

Co-workers, friends, acquaintances and total strangers could be greeted with the hearty hail, "Start the presses," as in, "Start the presses, Anita"; "start the presses, Mr. Crimple," and "a blessed good morning and start the presses, Sister Mary Rudolph."

I am well aware that "stop the presses" has a much better ring, because of the exciting image it presents of a crotchedy old editor insisting on completely tearing apart page 1 way past deadline to add exciting breaking news that simply can't wait until the next day. Unfortunately, the phrase nowadays has more sinister connotations because of the continuing attacks on press freedoms and journalists worldwide and naysayers' dire warnings that newspapers are going the way of the Model T. It's not true, of course. Newspapers have no choice but to change to reflect the times, but they will always be here.

And, most importantly, on American Newspaper Day, working journalists (and even the journalists who work hardest at avoiding work) should get a bonus large enough to take a well-deserved vacation to Grand Cayman.

(Betz is an assistant editor of The News-Item.)