What Is Loyalty Day?

Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP Images.
Donald Trump proclaimed May 1 as Loyalty Day. It is not a new holiday or even something the Trump Administration made up. Loyalty Day has been declared annually by every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958.
What is the purpose of Loyalty Day? According to the U.S. Code, since its initial declaration, Loyalty Day has celebrated "the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom." The first Loyalty Day was observed after the First Red Scare in 1921.
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Though America has been celebrating this day for nearly 60 years, the holiday is not highly publicized which explains why Twitter was abuzz shortly after Trump's declaration on Friday. While the day itself is not a cause for concern of governmental overreach, it is worth nothing the drastic difference in the wording of this year's press release from the Trump administration compared to last year's from the Obama administration.
A brief overview of 2016's Loyalty Day statement shows a call to action for American citizens to make "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." In contrast, this year's proclamation calls upon Americans to "honor our Republic and acknowledge the great responsibility that self-governance demands of each of us."
Last years takes an inspirational tone, reminding us of the legacy on which our country was built.
"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."
Taking a more nationalist tone, the Trump administration chose the imminent threat of terrorism and "those who would seek to harm" as the prominent theme stating:
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"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."
Side-by-side, these press releases underscore the difference in how both men approached their responsibilities as president. Focusing on "making our society more just and more equal" was at the heart of Obama's 2016 proclamation, while Trump chose to highlight how "our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it."
While Loyalty Day may not be new, the White House is approaching its celebration in a different manner this year.
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