May first has been National Loyalty Day since 1921. One wouldn’t know this by observation, I didn’t see one extra flag on display today, even though displaying the flag is the encouraged method of observing the day.
I didn’t even bother to display my flag, something I generally look for excuses to do. Of course, I don’t display the Stars and Stripes, but instead declare my allegiance to the original concepts behind the formation of the American union. I fly the Gadsden flag, and declare my intentions to be independent with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me”. I have always found the story behind the evolution of the flag to be inspirational.
On the other end of the spectrum, the word loyalty has a chilling effect when I think about it these days. I seem to hear it most from nationalists calling for the average citizen to show their allegiance to their gov’t, right or wrong. Like children mouthing the pledge every morning, but having no understanding of the meaning behind the words of the pledge (James Clavell‘s The Children’s Story paints a pretty clear picture of just how frightening this can be) calling for loyalty without question or reason destroys whatever value the concept of loyalty might contain.
Loyalty, like respect, has to be earned; and once betrayed, is nearly impossible to regain. The sitting president can sign a proclamation every year calling for displays of loyalty to the U.S. government, and it will mean nothing in the long run if he continues to betray the trust of the people of the United States, as far too many of his predecessors have also done.