RUTLAND- This year marked the 50th Annual Loyalty Day
parade in Rutland City.
Loyalty Day celebrations began to take place in America in
response to the "red scare" of the 1920's. Communist Russia had
been organizing marches and protests in line with the May 1
recognition of the Haymarket massacre of 1886. American officials
were keen to develop a more "democratic" holiday. Loyalty Day has
since become a legal holiday, but it is not an official Federal
holiday, so many American's remain unaware of it. It is celebrated
with parades and ceremonies in many communities in America and is
considered an opportunity to reaffirm and celebrate patriotism.
The Rutland chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has
had an integral part of carrying on the Loyalty Day tradition for
50 years. It has organized the most impressive celebration of the
holiday in the region by presenting the biggest parade in Rutland
the weekend after May 1. One thing that has added to the enduring
charm of the parade is the simple rule that politics and
campaigning are off limits.
This year the patriotic spirit was alive and well in the
downtown as spectators enjoyed cloudless skies and summer-like
temperatures. Bands from area schools including Proctor, Mill River
and West Rutland performed to enthusiastic crowds along the parade
route, which snaked through the northwest part of the city and
ended up in Depot Park.
Highlights from this year included several American Legion
Posts, dozens of representatives from VFW chapters and other
veterans' organizations. In addition to honoring those who
have served the country, the parade also acts to recognize civic
organizations and emergency service personnel. Those who regularly
put their lives on the line for the community clearly enjoy
displaying their fire engines, ambulances and rescue vehicles as
much as spectators enjoy seeing them. The ladder truck from
Killington had a special place along the parade route; it helped
hold up a 50-foot American flag near the parade's terminus.
State and local officials are always amongst the marchers and
they include the Board of Aldermen and State officials including
Peter Shumlin who thanked the crowd at the end of the route. He
said he was grateful that he was able to take part in a celebration
that honored the country and the specific contributions from
Vermont and the Rutland region.
MAY DAY HONORS WORKERS
In over 80 countries worldwide, May 1 is International Workers Day
or May Day and it is often recognized by the government to honor
the accomplishments of its workers. In many of those countries,
thousands of protestors gathered to demonstrate and demand better
conditions for the working class.
Workers worldwide are under increasing pressure as wages fall,
inputs must increase and the income gap between rich and poor
widens every year. In the beginning of 2013, the world's greatest
financial minds got together in Davos, Switzerland at the World
Economic Forum. The prognosis was negative, especially for the
working class of developed nations. A shrinking middle class,
decreased social mobility and a widening income gap are problems
In America, stagnant wages, middle class debt and a recent
recession are blamed for historic income inequality. According to
the data compiled at the forum only Turkey, Chile and Mexico have a
greater income disparity among the developed nations. According to
a recent article in CNN Money, the average CEO makes 379 times the
average worker. At the top of that list is the CEO of Apple who
makes 6,258 times what an average Apple employee makes.
Despite the troubling statistics, outside of a few leftist
groups, May Day protests have no place in America. In general Labor
movements are not given the credence they receive overseas. Some
explanation for (at least on this specific day) may be found by
looking into our Loyalty Day celebrations, which divert our
attention from change to patriotism.