National Loyalty Day: What Does Loyalty Mean to You?

May 1, 2023
National Loyalty Day: What Does Loyalty Mean to You?

Close up of a veteran holding an American flag at the 2014 NYC Veterans Day parade. Credit: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Loyalty is a virtue comprised of thoughts, words and actions that underscore a sense of commitment and faithfulness.  

“Without loyalty there can be no family.  Without loyalty there can be no friendship.  Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country,” wrote Eric Felten, the author of Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue.

Today is National Loyalty Day, and it presents an opportunity for Americans to reflect on their views of loyalty not only to this country but to each other.

The Making of the Day

Loyalty Day began as “Americanization Day” on May 1, 1921 as a counter to the Communist Party’s May 1, or May Day – a celebration of the Russian Revolution.

On the first day of the fifth month in 1930, over 10,000 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars staged a rally in New York City’s Union Square to show and promote patriotism.

Through a resolution adopted by the VFW in 1949, May 1 became known as Loyalty Day.

The event was recognized by Congress on April 27, 1955, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower soon followed suit by proclaiming May 1, 1955 as the first Loyalty Day.  

Views on Loyalty

While today provides a chance for Americans to reaffirm their sense of loyalty in what this nation stands for, it also allows for reflection on the various interpretations of this virtue…

“When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special interest group –‘We the people.’”  President Ronald Reagan
“Loyalty mean giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.  Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me. But once a decision is made, the debate ends.  From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”   Gen. Colin Powell
“Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than loyalty.”  Cicero, Roman statesman
“Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.”  President Woodrow Wilson
“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”  G.K. Chesterton
“Be loyal to those who are not present.  In doing so, you build the trust of those who are present.”  Stephen Covey
“He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.”  Proverbs 21:21
“I can’t expect loyalty from the army if I do not give it.”  Gen. George C. Marshall
“The test of good citizenship is loyalty to country.”  Bainbridge Colby
“The difference between a republic and an empire is the loyalty of one’s army.”  Julius Caesar
“Loyalty is a two-way street.  If I’m asking it from you, then you’re getting it from me.”  Harvey Specter
“Loyalty isn’t grey.  It’s black and white. You’re either loyal completely, or not loyal at all.”  Sharnay
“The success of our Nation depends in the last analysis upon the quality of our career services. In foreign affairs, national defense, science and technology … they face problems of unprecedented importance and perplexity.  We are all dependent on their sense of loyalty and responsibility as well as their competence and energy.”  President John F. Kennedy
“If you’re looking for perfection … I’m not it.  But if you looking for honesty, loyalty & a whole bunch of crazy, that’s all me.”  United States Marine Corps
“Loyalty is a cohesive force that forges individuals into a team.”  John Wooden

From these various views on the virtue of loyalty emerges our nation’s commitment to “We the People….”

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