The history of May 1 and Loyalty Day

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The Snohomish County Council unanimously approved a resolution that proclaimed May 1, 2015 as Loyalty Day in Snohomish County. The resolution was brought to the County Council by Donald Wishmann, who serves as District 1 Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Commander Wishmann was representing the eight Snohomish County VFW Posts. County Council Chairperson Dave Somers led a discussion regarding the significance of Loyalty Day and was joined by Councilmembers Terry Ryan, Stephanie Wright, Ken Klein and Brian Sullivan in supporting the resolution.

When asked the significance of May 1, most Americans would probably respond by saying that it is May Day. Technically, they would be correct, but May 1 is so much more.

Historically, May Day is related to Celtic and Germanic festivals that marked the end of another winter and welcomed the arrival of spring and warmer weather. Eventually, May Day celebrations, complete with May Pole dancing, were occurring in many communities all across America. The spirit of May Day, however, took on an ominous meaning when Communist Russia celebrated the day to honor the Russian Revolution. In an effort to counteract the Communist May Day celebrations that were occurring in America, the VFW sought to challenge what they considered to be the “disruptive forces of Communism”. At the urging of the VFW, many communities across America organized various activities to promote patriotism and Americanism. These were sponsored by schools, churches, labor unions, fraternal organizations, and all levels of government. Congress adopted a resolution in 1949, proclaiming May 1 as Loyalty Day, but it wouldn’t be until 1958 until the proclamation became law. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 529 in which May was proclaimed Loyalty Day in the United States.

Loyalty Day was established as a day for reaffirming our loyalty to the United States and the documents upon which our nation was founded and provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the many freedoms secured and preserved for us by the brave patriots who have served in our nation’s armed forces and risked their lives in the defense of freedom.

 — By Fred Apgar

Fred Apgar is a Vietnam Veteran and is Past Commander of VFW Post #8870, Edmonds.

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