Today is Loyalty Day in America, and we have to admit we wouldn’t have known that if President Donald Trump hadn’t proclaimed it.
So far as we can tell from Wikipedia the first of May was designated “Americanization Day” at the height of the first Red Scare in 1921, intended as a response to all the commies around the world coopting May Day as a celebration of their ideology. Neither the commie version of May Day nor “Americanization Day” really caught on, but during an even scarier Red Scare the Congress declared July 18, 1955, for some reason, to be “Loyalty Day,” and the President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed it ahead of schedule on May First of that year, which apparently necessitated moving Child Health Day to the first Monday in October. Then, as now, the observance invited Americans to reaffirm their commitment to American values.
So far as we can further tell from Wikipedia the holiday has been happening ever since, each year with a presidential mention of some sort, but it entirely escaped our notice until Trump weighed in. He issued a statement that the day is intended to “express our country’s loyalty to individual liberties, to limited government, and to the inherent dignity of every human being,” and of course such anodyne sentiments caused enough of an uproar to push the previously little-noted holiday into in our news feed. Barring some unforeseen developments on the Korean Peninsula or on Wall Street, Loyalty Day should get more than its usual share of air-time today on the cable news and late night comedy shows.
Our liberal Facebook friends who only read the headlines were freaking out about Trump proclaiming Loyalty Day, assuming it was a command to pledge loyalty to his newly formed reich, but that strikes even such conservative NeverTrumpers as ourselves as a wild overreaction. The presidential proclamation clearly wasn’t written by the president, who was almost certainly also unaware of the holiday’s existence, and there’s nothing in any of the suspiciously parseable and superlative-free sentences that equates a commitment to individual liberties and limited government and the inherent dignity of every human being with unquestioning fealty to Trump. The language used in the proclamation is more suited to a Loyal Day card that you’ll never send than fascist manifesto. Our guess is that the administration let the routine holiday observance be handled by the routine writers, who regurgitated pretty much every previously ignored statement by every administration back to Ike, and they simply failed to anticipate that Trump will always get different a kind of coverage.
The sorts of liberals who do read past the headlines seem to have realized that Trump hasn’t proclaimed any kind of dictatorship, and that it’s just one of those serendipitous holidays that comes along on a slow news day, but they can’t help availing themselves of the opportunity to how faithful the Trump administration has been to the ideas of individual liberty and limited government and the inherent dignity of every human being. They’re on firmer ground there, as even such conservative NeverTrumpers as ourselves have questions along the same lines, and even the Russia Today propaganda network that once employed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn couldn’t help piling on. Although we have no patience for Russian propaganda we won’t mind if a day of loyalty to American values winds up with a widespread debate about current issues.
Such a debate would have been nice back when President Barack Obama was issuing his widely-ignored proclamations about Loyalty Day, which we now note were also rather anodyne yet full of hypocritical words that both liberals and conservatives could have called him out on. For that matter, we don’t doubt that pretty much presidential proclamation all the way back to good ol’ Ike could have been harshly scrutinized.
Nobody’s sending Loyalty Day cards, though, and the local supermarket that’s always filling a whole aisle with things for the next big holiday seems to have overlooked the occasion, and we think that’s probably for the best. Even our most liberal Facebook friends won’t be singing The Internationale and commemorating the Haymarket Massacre, all of our conservative buddies will surely have better things to do than pledge their unquestioning fealty to Trump. Independence Day and Presidents’ Day and Veterans’ Day should provide more tangible reasons for America to reaffirm its commitment to American values, whatever we might decide that means.
Better to spend the day doing some fool dance around a maypole and welcoming the warmth of spring, as far as we’re concerned. The weather’s been crazy around here lately, though, with the spring thus far being much worse than the remarkably mild winter, and our forecast is for further political turbulence. We’ll try to console ourselves that it’s a longstanding American value.
— Bud Norman