Moira Herbst writes: The May Day tradition dates back hundreds of years to pagan celebrations of spring and the renewal of life it promises. Celts, Teutons and Romans marked the day with dancing, tree-decorating, processions and rituals involving fairies, goddesses, wreaths and flowers.
Since the late 19th century, some of the wreaths and adornments have given way to banners and flags, as 1 May has become International Workers’ Day. Workers throughout the world hold marches and parties to celebrate solidarity and the common goal of achieving better working conditions and better lives.
But American workers, for the most part, have been left out of the festivities. At the height of the cold war, May Day was considered too radical, too “Soviet” perhaps, and the American Federation of Labor itself wanted distance from it. In 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower went so far as to declare 1 May “National Loyalty Day”. Loyalty to one concept of America, that is – not worker solidarity.
That decision to rob Americans of a day of recognition of workers’ struggles worldwide was a mistake. Now, it’s time to take it back. [Continue reading…]