A ceremony each year spotlights students singing patriotic tunes, pledging to the flag and participating in a program to reflect on our nation, our history and our freedoms.
This is an excellent program. Local schools are fortunate that teachers have taken the lead through the years to instill patriotism in their students. I recall my first participation in these Loyalty Day celebrations began at Oak Grove Elementary School at the invitation of Wilma Goins, a teacher who is now retired. Wilma, who was an officer in local, state and national Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, was a leader in promoting patriotism and educating students on their obligations as U.S. citizens. Now, though she lives out of town, she returns each year for the program she inspired over three decades ago.
Taylor Elementary School is another school that commemorates this special day with a program. Both pay tribute to our men and women in the armed forces. This year the Bradley Central High School Jr. ROTC did a great job as participants. As a veteran, I find the programs each year an encouraging and uplifting event.
The United States of America was founded by patriots who risked their lives to bring freedom to the nation, so that you and I are free to assemble just as we do each year on May 1.
Traditionally each year, our nation’s founders are remembered on Loyalty Day, a day when people celebrate our freedom while remembering our responsibilities to continue the legacy of liberty.
Some celebrate Loyalty Day with parades and ceremonies in communities across the United States. It may be in schools, churches or other venues.
At Oak Grove School, Loyalty Day has been a longstanding tradition as the school and its faculty set aside the day to emphasize to students their individual responsibilities to our nation and the respect for our flag and what it represents.
I take great pride when I see young people recite our Pledge of Allegiance, or sing the National Anthem.
Flag etiquette is something we need to impress on people around us. We should always remember to place our hands on our hearts when our American flag passes by or the National Anthem is sung. So many times at special events, parades or sporting events, I see people failing to properly acknowledge our flag. It’s up to you and me to bring this to people’s attention and remind them of proper respect for our flag. We must teach students this respect at a very young age so it will be instilled in them for a lifetime.
The special day was first observed in 1921 as “Americanization Day” to counter-balance Labor Day on May Day (May 1), celebrated in other parts of the world. On May 1, 1930, about 10,000 Veterans of Foreign War members staged a rally at New York’s Union Square to promote patriotism. Through a resolution adopted in 1949, May 1 evolved into Loyalty Day. Observances began on April 28, 1950, and climaxed on May 1 when more than 5 million people across the nation held rallies. In New York City, more than 100,000 people rallied for America.
On July 18, 1958, the Congress designated May 1 of each year as Loyalty Day to foster loyalty and love of the country. Each year, the president is requested to issue a proclamation, calling on United States government officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Loyalty Day, and inviting the people of the United States to observe Loyalty Day with appropriate ceremonies in schools and other suitable places.
Loyalty Day may not mean a great deal to some because it is not a public holiday and businesses open as usual. It should, however, be observed as a means of fostering loyalty and love of country in our children.
Thank you to all the students who took part in Loyalty Day 2012. May it remain with you as you grow and become our nation’s leaders of the future.