May 1, 2015

What is Loyalty Day?

For most of the world, today is International Workers Day, or May Day. The US too will celebrate this day, but not officially, as our Labor Day is held the first Monday of September. Instead, the US celebrates a holiday known as "Loyalty Day".

If you're somebody like me who doesn't pay attention to Presidential proclamations or live in a community that celebrates this holiday with parades, then you may not be familiar with this holiday, or even aware of its existence.

So what is Loyalty Day, where did it come from and why is it celebrated on the same date as May Day?

As you might imagine, Loyalty Day has its origins in the Red Scare. Originally celebrated as "Americanization Day" in 1921, the date was chosen to counter the May 1st celebration of the Russian Revolution and replace it with a day celebrating and promoting American patriotism and affirming loyalty to the United States.

Celebration of Workers of the Whole World

During the Second Red Scare, "Americanization Day" was celebrated and renamed to "Loyalty Day" by President Eisenhower on May 1st, 1955, just days after Congress recognised the holiday, and then in 1958 was made an official reoccuring holiday.

Is Loyalty Day really an important holiday?

The case could be made that today, Loyalty Day isn't that important, but is just a relic of our fear and fight against communism. At the time of its introduction, the holiday would have been a beneficial tool to convince your friends and government that you were indeed not a communist. Of course, not celebrating Loyalty Day and flying the US Flag during this holiday could have made your neighbors and friends think you were sympathetic to communism, and as we all learned in school, was practically social suicide.

America Under Communism Propaganda

Why is Labor Day in September?

For several years before the introduction of International Worker's Day, the CLU of New York and other trade unions celebrated their own worker's holiday on the date that would later become Labor Day. President Grover Cleveland was concerned that by commemorating International Workers Day, he would be associating Labor Day with the socialist and anarchist movements.

Why haven't we moved US Labor Day to May 1st like the rest of the world?

Loyalty Day is one of the many pesky things born during the scare of communism that we can't seem to rid ourselves from. Much like our decision to begin adding God to our paper money, motto, and pledge, Loyalty Day is an item of nationalism showing our opposition to communism. Loyalty Day isn't a major US holiday, at least in the way that it's overshadowed by May Day and her large parades.

May Day Workers of the World Unite

Even with the Cold War over, we still don't like communism; we still have tensions with Cuba and China and have increasing tensions with North Korea. A patriotic person could make the argument that moving our Labor Day to the same date as International Workers Day would be a literal replacement of Loyalty Day, and would show us as weak to the communist nations who we just barely tolerate. An extreme viewpoint could be made that we'd be endorsing communism.

Despite our unwillingness to either move Labor Day to the same date as International Workers Day or to make May Day/IWD a US recognised federal holiday, there will be parades, there will be marches, and there will be other ways that American citizens will celebrate this holiday.

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author Tighe Craven About Tiger
Tiger is a 23 year old college student, activist, and professional living in the Saint Louis metro area. When he's not being apathetic to the idea of God or writing about atheism, he is serving a presidential term for a mental health organisation and a board membership of another, does public speaking about mental illness and disability, and is a photographer and a bassist.
You can read more about what he does on his website,