Hazel M. Lieb of Beltsville is Loyalty Day chairman of the local Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
She sent a message about Loyalty Day to three local newspapers: The Washington Post, The Washington Star and The Prince George's Sentinel.
"Not one sentence was published," she says. "It seems shameful that the media fails to mention the fact that May 1 of each year is Loyalty Day."
The message that Hazel sent to the three newspapers said:
"May 1 of each year was designated as 'Loyalty Day' by congressional act 85-529 of 1958.
"This is a special day set aside so that Americans can pointedly counteract the Communists who use May Day for their annual hate demonstrations against our nation. It has taken on increased meaning in recent years due to the activities of irresponsible dissidents and threats by extremists in our midst who openly advocate the overthrow of our federal government.
"The ideas and concepts of our fore-fathers have long endured, and have forged these states into the strongest and greatest nation the world has ever known. But we need a tremendous resurgence of good old-fashioned red, white and blue patriotism on a daily basis if we are to continue to exist as a free people.
"Loyalty is an intangible thing. It causes people to form governments, obey laws and willingly defend their country against its enemies. It is the cohesive factor that welds a people together to act for the common good. We should observe Loyalty Day, therefore, to remind ourselves and others that there is no substitute for loyalty. We should pledge ourselves to maintain a free society in which loyalty is respected and encouraged."
Thank you, Hazel. Your letter arrived just in time to help me sort out my own thoughts about loyalty. Ever since I wrote that I respect American presidents and the decisions they make, critics have been pounding me.
I said that regardless of which party holds the White House, I must assume that a sitting president is neither a knave nor a fool.He has access to secret intelligence reports and is in the best position to know the truth.
It is therefore the president who must make the big decisions and the hard choices.Decisions that turn out badly should not automatically subject the decision maker to attack. Even when we disagree with a president's decision, we can respect it, and we can respect the man who made it.
The column in which I expressd these views brought in quite a few letters that posed uncomfortable questions. Readers asked:
"Are you telling us to shut up and be 'good Germans' who pretend not to know what our government is doing?"
"Are you saying, 'My country, right or wrong, my country'? If you are, wake up. That philosophy went out with hoop skirts."
"When Nixon told us there was nothing on the tapes that would incriminate him and that he would never lie to the American people, did you believe him?"
"Did Nixon have your allegiance right up until the moment he resigned to avoid being impeached?"
My answers are No, No, Yes and No, in that order.
"No, I am not saying that free Americans should muzzle themselves on matters of conscience. But we should have a decent respect for the opinions government officials who have access to a worldwide information network and are advised by experts.
No, I am not saying that it doesn't matter to me whether my country is right or wrong. When I have reason to believe that my country is wrong, it is my duty to try to help my country find its way to the right side, and to do this through legal and peaceful means.
Yes, when President Nixon looked me in the eye and said he wouldn't lie to me, he retained my allegiance for a while longer. I thought he had stretched the truth before, and there was reason to suspect he might be doing it again. But, temporarily at least, I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was my president.
No, Nixon did not have my allegiance right up until his final moments in office. He lost my allegiance when overwhelming evidence was presented that he had lied to the American people.
Hazel helped me clarify my own thinking when she wrote that loyalty is an intangible thing, yet it is the glue that causes people to form free associations that can exist only through mutual aid, trust, loyalty and cooperation.
The difference between being loyal and being a dupe who can be led around by the nose may be primarily a matter of attitude.
A loyal adherent is not everlastingly suspicious or distrustful. He accepts opions counter to his own in a generous and cooperative spirit.
He's not a dupe. He's not a fool. If you abuse his trust, you can drive a loyalist to rebellion. But until that happens, he tends to remain loyal, whether it's May 1 or any other date.