Monday, May 1, 2017


Today, May 1, has been declared Loyalty Day by the current president. Other American presidents in other years have also identified May 1 as Loyalty Day. According to Washington Post reporter, Valerie Strauss, May 1 was originally proclaimed Americanzation Day in 1921. In 1958, Congress passed a law commemorating the day. Since then, presidents have made proclamations about the day.

Actually, this is the first that I have heard of a day commemorated to loyalty. For a variety of reasons, I have unsettled feelings about a day dedicated to loyalty. To me, the concept of loyalty has some drawbacks. Of course, being loyal to a friend or an ideal can be admirable. However, loyalty can be misguided when the friend goes astray or the ideal is misrepresented.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services lists these responsibilities for American citizens.
  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.
Certainly, this list includes commendable goals for not only new citizens but for native born citizens as well. However, questioning the direction and viewpoints of those in power is a worthwhile and necessary pursuit to create the best government possible. To blindly accept laws and pronouncements by our leaders is to abdicate our responsibility,  

During the Viet Nam War at a time when many Americans opposed the war, pro-war loyalists would chant. "My country right or wrong" or "America love it or leave it." In the 19th century, Carl Schurz, German-born statesman had a different perspective in his adage, “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” On this May 1 and the days to follow, let us dedicate ourselves to keeping what is right about our country and to setting right what is wrong.

My thanks to the Washington Post article, "May 1 is ‘Loyalty Day’ in America. Here’s Trump’s view of the day — and Obama’s.",  by Valerie Strauss, May 1. 2017. Thank you also to my friend, Gene Coleman, who taught me Schurz's timeless quote.