What could be more American than Loyalty Day? We are all red-blooded regardless of the color of our skin. No matter where we come from, we love our country. This nation is far from perfect but it stands tall among the world’s strongest powers.
As citizens, we are free to vote, express opinions and worship as we choose. We are so secure in our inalienable rights that we rarely give them much thought. Why not celebrate all this with a collective reaffirmation of our allegiance to the United States every May 1?
The better question might be: What motivated the establishment of an official day for stating the obvious? It started in the 1920s when what was freedom of speech and assembly for some became quite a concern for others.
May 1 was a national day of rally for Communists, Socialists and Anarchists. Our Veterans of Foreign Wars believed these groups were disruptive threats that needed a counterbalance. Through the efforts of the VFW and other organizations, May 1 became known unofficially as Americanization Day. Historians call this our first Red Scare.
The late 1950s gave rise to McCarthyism and peaked with an officially designated holiday sporting a new name. Loyalty Day was signed onto the calendar by President Eisenhower in 1958. Historians refer to this period as our second Red Scare.
Though not many communities across the country celebrate former Americanization Day, those that do have every right to their freedom of speech and assembly. For the majority of us, today is an oddity on the calendar that has something to do with patriotism.
Loyalty Day deserves to be better understood for reasons beyond the intent claimed by its original founders. It is easy to say we have moved past the paranoia that sparked this unusual observance. It is harder to know if that’s really true. Perhaps the safest thing to do is turn the page and let the historians sort it out.