Labor, Loyalty and Law Day
by Bob Schwartz
May Day has been for ages a universal celebration of spring, with sprightly traditions including dancing around the Maypole. Then it took a darker, more serious turn, becoming International Workers’ Day (Labor Day), a commemoration of the bloody death of workers at the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886. To counter this populist/communistic direction, in 1921 it became Loyalty Day (originally Americanization Day), with Congress and President Eisenhower officially affirming this in 1959 at the height of the Cold War. Almost simultaneously, in 1958 the President also declared May 1 to be Law Day.
May Day remains all this and whatever else you choose to make of it. Consider these virtues: the importance of labor and economic justice, the value of deserved loyalty, the significance of the rule of law, and the joys of spring that make all of them worthwhile. If you miss May 1, May 2 or every other day will do for working on all these and for dancing, with or without a Maypole.