The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have proclaimed May 1-7 Vietnam Veterans Recognition Week, and the local Mason-Dixon Post 7234 (Quillen’s Point) will be holding a kickoff celebration on May 1.
Perhaps unbeknownst to many Americans, May 1 is celebrated as Loyalty Day in this country.
It was May Day, for a while, in honor of the efforts of early trade and labor unions. They demanded an eight-hour workday, to come into effect on May 1 of 1886.
In the end, the U.S. government recognized the demand — but there were tragedies along the way, going both ways.
Two days past the May 1 deadline, police and strikers clashed. A massive riot formed the next night, then a bomb killed several police officers and strikers, and a group of men were sent to prison and/or executed for alleged connections with the mystery bomber — railroaded, many say. Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld pardoned three of those men in 1893.
Strange as it may seem, because our own Labor Day comes at the other end of the summer, many other countries celebrate May Day by that very name (Labour Day).
However, the Soviet Union latched onto the holiday (where it began to be celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers), and Americans moved to distance themselves from that political ideology and/or memories of Haymarket.
It was renamed Americanization Day in the 1920s, and eventually became Loyalty Day.
As such, May 1 now marks a day “for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom” (from U.S. Code), and many do celebrate it.
More than 3,403,000 American military personnel served in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.
At Quillen’s Point, an honor guard, the traditional volley, taps and various VFW leaders will commemorate the date. All welcome potential new members to join in –Vietnam veterans in particular, because Loyalty Day will occasion the “Recognize Vietnam Veterans” event this year.
For more information, call Quillen’s Point at 539-9981.