May 1, you may be surprised to learn, is “Loyalty Day” in the United States, and it has been so for decades.
First observed in 1921, it was then called Americanization Day to counter International Workers Day, promoted by socialists and Communists to honor workers on May 1. In 1955, Congress recognized it as a special day, as did President Eisenhower, and three years later legislators passed a law making it an annual holiday. Since then, every president has issued a proclamation to mark the day — every single year.
Ordinarily, the proclamations are non-partisan and talk generally of upholding American values and advancing freedom. President Barack Obama in 2016 called for making American society “more just and more equal.” President George W. Bush in 2008 urged Americans to “aid our family, friends, and fellow citizens all across this broad and welcoming land” and to learn more about U.S. history.
The Trump administration did something a little different with President Trump’s first Loyalty Day proclamation. For Trump, the day is a time for Americans to express loyalty not only to individual liberties but also to “limited government.” He used the occasion of the proclamation to note that the country “will always stand strong” against “terrorism and lawlessness.” It says in part:
The loyalty of our citizenry sends a clear signal to our allies and enemies that the United States will never yield from our way of life.
Trump’s proclamation raises the issue of just how Americans can/should show loyalty to their country. These are the primary responsibilities of American citizens, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- 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.
Here’s Trump’s complete Loyalty Day proclamation:
On Loyalty Day, we recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles upon which our Nation is built. We pledge our dedication to the United States of America and honor its unique heritage, reminding ourselves that we are one Nation, under God, made possible by those who have sacrificed to defend our liberty. We honor our Republic and acknowledge the great responsibility that self-governance demands of each of us.
The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it.
As one Nation, we will always stand strong against the threats of terrorism and lawlessness. The loyalty of our citizenry sends a clear signal to our allies and enemies that the United States will never yield from our way of life. Through the Department of Defense and other national security agencies, we are working to destroy ISIS, and to secure for all Americans the liberty terrorists seek to extinguish. We humbly thank our brave service members and veterans who have worn our Nation’s uniform — from the American Revolution to the present day. Their unwavering loyalty and fidelity has made the world a safer, more free, and more just place. We are inspired by their pride in our country’s principles, their devotion to our freedom, and their solemn pledge to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
To express our country’s loyalty to individual liberties, to limited government, and to the inherent dignity of every human being, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, we honor the United States of America and those who uphold its values, particularly those who have fought and continue to fight to defend the freedom it affords us.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2017, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call on all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies in our schools and other public places, including recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. I also call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings and grounds on that day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
By way of contrast, let’s look at Loyalty Day proclamations issued by the two previous presidents.
Here’s the text of the 2016 Loyalty Day proclamation signed by Obama:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
America endures because of the generations of our people who have endeavored alongside one another, joining their voices and their efforts to ensure our Nation lives up to its highest ideals. Driven by the determination to continue making our society more just and more equal, our work to fulfill our country’s potential has always relied on our willingness to see ourselves in our fellow citizens.
Our Nation has always been at its finest when guided by a spirit of shared sacrifice and common purpose. It is that spirit that led a small band of patriots to declare our fledgling democracy free from the grasp of tyranny, that slaves and abolitionists carried in their hearts as they marched forward on the long journey toward freedom, and that guides the men and women who wear our country’s uniform in their selfless service. From the unlit paths of the Underground Railroad to the lunch counters of Greensboro, the first streets draped in the colors of pride to the highest Court in our land, we have seen throughout our history that America is inexorably driven forward by those who commit themselves to expanding our founding promise through extraordinary acts of courage and heroism. We honor that legacy — that demonstrates that the forces of hope and love of country are strong enough to overcome even our most deeply entrenched obstacles — by resolving to carry it forward, by rejecting appeals to prejudice and division in our time, and by drawing on the hopes and dreams that bind us.
While ours has always been a large and complicated democracy, full of differing views and boisterous debates, our history also makes clear that we are strongest when we find in our diversity a deeper, richer unity, stemming from an overarching belief in the possibilities our shared future holds. This Loyalty Day, let us remember that what defines us as one American people is our dedication to common ideals — rather than similarities of origin or creed — and let us reaffirm that embracing this truth lies at the heart of what it means to be a citizen. As long as we stay true to that mission and uphold our responsibility to deliver a freer, fairer Nation to the next generation, a future of ever greater progress will remain within our reach.
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2016, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of April in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
And here’s the 2008 proclamation by then President George W. Bush:
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
Americans believe that every man, woman, and child has unalienable rights, dignity, and matchless value. Advancing these ideals was the honorable vision of our Founders and the mission that helped shape this great country. On Loyalty Day, we celebrate the legacy of freedom and the shared ideals that bind us together.
Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen demonstrate their love of country by stepping forward when America needs them most. By putting our country’s security before their own, the men and women of the Armed Forces have strengthened our Nation and brought hope to millions around the world. All Americans are grateful to the members of the military and their families for their service, sacrifice, and dedication, and we are proud of their accomplishments.
Through their good works, our Nation’s volunteers bear witness to their steadfast love for America, as exemplified in their commitment to service and good citizenship. Loyalty to this country brings with it a commitment to aid our family, friends, and fellow citizens all across this broad and welcoming land. These volunteers demonstrate their gratitude for the blessings of freedom by helping build a more hopeful future for our children and grandchildren. All Americans can put their loyalty into practice by learning more about the history of our country, flying the American flag, and contributing to our communities.
Two hundred and thirty-two years after the founding of our country, we remain committed to advancing freedom and renewing the values that sustain our liberty. Through the spirit and determination of our people, our Nation will prosper and our liberty will be secure.
The Congress, by Public Law 85-529, as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” This Loyalty Day, and throughout the year, I ask all Americans to join me in reaffirming our allegiance to our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2008, as Loyalty Day. I call upon all people of the United States to join in support of this national observance and to display the flag of the United States on Loyalty Day as a symbol of pride in our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.
GEORGE W. BUSH