On May 1, 1921, the US celebrated the first “Americanization Day”, which, in 1955, became known as “Loyalty Day” as an American response to Communism’s celebration of workers on May 1. Despite the somewhat “in your face” nature of its beginnings, the celebration of the uniqueness of our Constitutional Republlic is something to be embraced. Most of the memes we see about ‘Merica revolve around the redneck aspects of the U.S., which I think is rather appropos. Jeff Foxworthy described a redneck as an individual with a “glorious lack of sophistication”, which is a great description and a worthwhile pursuit as a nation.
Most people consider a “lack of sophistication” a perjorative term, equating it with ignorance and idiocy. I would like to politely disagree. The problem I have with terms like sophisticated are that they imply that if you are part of the group to which it refers, you are good, and if you are not, you are a lesser being, either through intent or through inability. However, when we look at history, we see many, many examples of where the “sophisticated” or “betters” were brought face to face with their own hubris and brought back down to earth. This is where we get the term “hoisted by one’s own petard” and the admonition from the Old Testament that “pride goeth before a fall.”
In contrast to this, America’s history has been rife with examples of the triumph of the “redneck” over the “sophisticate”. From the very beginning, we have demonstrated and celebrated outside the box thinking and brash action. Our founding fathers boarded a ship in the dark of the night and dumped its cargo of tea into Boston Harbor to demonstrate our opposition to the tea tax. A Presidential candidate and former President defended himself against an assassin and then gave his 90-minute campaign speech. We suffered a massive blow to our military defenses in World War 2 and converted it to the most powerful economy of all time. We built, and used, the most devastating weapons ever developed to end a war. We have repeatedly waged war, not to expand our territory, but rather to bring freedom to an oppressed populace. Think about that compared to our sophisticated European brethren. While our allies historically expanded their territory at the expense of the vanquished, we rebuild our adversaries and made them our allies.
We had the audacity to declare we would put a man on the moon…and then did it…multiple times. We developed the steam engine, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, the computer, the Internet, and many, many other technologies that revolutionized our daily lives and the economy. And we are only 241 years old.
So, as you celebrate, or more probably, realize, that today is “Loyalty Day”, take a moment to tip your cap (yes, your baseball cap) to the redneck ethos that made this country great. Remember, we are back-to-back world war champions and could three-peat if pushed. Like our redneck heritage, we may fight amongst ourselves, but will protect our own against outsiders, and we won’t stop until we win. That may not be sophisticated, but it is a winning formula.