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- Rutland’s 49th Annual Loyalty Day Parade marches on with pride
Loyalty Day is observed on May 1 every year. It is a special day
for citizens to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States and
recognize the American legacy of freedom; it is a tribute to the
social and economic contributions of workers. Loyalty Day is
an official observance but not a federal holiday, so do not expect
to get the day off work or school.
The holiday was first observed in 1921, then called
"Americanization Day" it was intended to counterbalance the
celebration of Labor Day on May Day (May 1), an international
celebration commemorating the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in
On that day, what started as a peaceful labor demonstration by
workers demanding a standard eight hour workday quickly turned
violent. When police attempted to disperse the crowd that had
gathered in Haymarket Square in Chicago, a dynamite bomb was
thrown. The explosion and gunfire that followed killed seven
policemen, at least four civilians, and injured many more. In the
internationally publicized trial that followed seven anarchists
were convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death despite the
prosecution's concession that none of the accused had thrown the
bomb. Two of the men served life sentences in prison, one
committed suicide and the other four were hanged.
May Day has since been an important day for left wing political
movements, labor unions, anarchists and socialists in many
countries worldwide. In the 1950s, communist Russia was flexing
their military muscle by staging huge parades at Red Square in
Moscow every May Day. During the Cold War these celebrations
were seen as attempts by the communists to spread their influence
in the world. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United
States sought to create a holiday to show loyalty to the United
States in the face of the communist threat.
The VFW had been attracting thousands of people to patriotic
celebrations on May Day for years but it took almost ten years of
lobbying to get the holiday recognized. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower finally signed it into law in 1958.
In 1963, the Rutland chapter of the VFW decided that they wanted
to bring a celebration to the city and embarked on creating a
celebratory parade. At first the parades were small but they grew
to sometimes included more than 100 groups marching making it the
state's largest parade some years. There has been a parade every
May for the past 49 years since its inception.
Chittenden Fire Department will be in the parade this year, with
many fans cheering them on. CFD delivered over 120 truck loads of
supplies to the towns of Pittsfield, Stockbridge, Killington,
Mendon and Bridgewater and raised over $41,000 to help the people
affected by Tropical Storm Irene.
Also marching will be the award winning Rutland Town school band,
100 students from grades five through eight will play an
arrangement of patriotic songs. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin will
be present along with Rutland Mayor Chris Louras and the City
Aldermen. Veterans of Foreign Wars from all over the state will
march as well as several other local school marching bands, fire
departments, rescue squads and veterans associations.
The specter of communism has diminished slightly over the years
but the Loyalty Day Parade in Rutland is a tradition worth keeping.
Give thanks to our veterans and volunteers on Sunday, May 5 at 2
p.m. in downtown Rutland.