As is customary for U.S. presidents around this time of year,
We find nothing to quibble with in that aspirational view of the nation, but the history of Loyalty Day itself is not so admirable. First celebrated in 1921 as Americanization Day, it arose in response to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and growing radicalism in a swelling U.S. labor movement. Congress formally recognized Loyalty Day in 1958, when Cold War-era anti-communist fervor led to a hunt for suspected subversives that cost countless leftists their jobs, prompted prosecutions for political beliefs, led governments to require employees and job seekers to take loyalty oaths, and propelled inquisitions by the House Un-American Activities Committee. It's no coincidence that Loyalty Day falls on May 1 or “
We're all for recognizing the strengths of American democracy, even during its ebbs (this presidential election may be one), and for highlighting the dreams and desires that undergird the Constitution. But it's also important to recognize our full history and not gloss over those moments when we fell short of our aspirations, and those "common ideals" the president mentioned.