The Washington Post has now made it vogue to reminisce about our good old high school days. Yes, it was many years ago, but how I remember May Day and all of the activities associated with it. Growing up in western Pennsylvania after the long and often times severe winter, the coming of spring was such a cherished time. The crowning of the May Queen, the dance around the May Pole, and a sundry of other outdoor activities bring back fond memories (maybe even point to medieval times).
During those carefree high school days, I never thought about any other significance associated with May Day. It was always a happy time and a welcome spring time for me. Later, I became aware that May Day was associated with the Communist movement and became known as the Workers’ Holiday. This caused me to question why.
Modern May Day really came into being after the Haymarket Square Massacre on May 4, 1886. Workers, who were striking for an eight-hour work day, tossed a bomb at the police who then shot into the crowd. Dozens, including police officers, were killed. Several years later the Second International (a gathering of socialists and labor parties) met and brought notoriety to that event by moving the commemoration of the massacre to May 1.
In just 10 years, May 1 became known as the Workers’ Holiday. Workers and other progressives used this day to demonstrate for their causes. When Communists took over the governments of many Eastern European countries, May Day eventually evolved into a holiday with massive displays of state military power. In the former Soviet Union and China, May Day became a national holiday as well as one to celebrate the proletariat.
It is only appropriate that the Occupy Movement in the United States resurrected itself after a winter hiatus to come alive again on May 1. How can we forget Sept. 17, 2011, when the initial protest began in Zuccotti Park near the Wall Street financial district? This movement was spawned by the Canadian group, Adbusters, whose main issues are complaints about social and economic matters, greed, corruption, and the undue influence of corporations on government. The motto of the Occupy Wall Street movement was “We are the 99 percent.”
This of course implies that 1 percent control the wealth and prosperity of the United States. The Occupiers sincerely believe that our current economic woes are based on greed and selfishness. There is no mention of current government policies like Dodd/Frank. They want the transfer of power from the “wealthy” to the hands of the majority.
We are born with the instinct to succeed, and for most of us that does not mean pressing the Staples’ “Easy Button.” Not all of us will have the same outcomes. Yes, sometimes luck rules the day, or one has the good fortune to be born into wealth. Most of the time people are successful because they choose to work hard! Even those born into poverty can be successful with the right education and that innate drive to achieve.
Consider two neighbors who have adjoining back yards. One neighbor, president of a local bank, has a huge back yard. The other neighbor has three children and a postage-stamp sized back yard. The neighbor with the tiny back yard decides to remedy the situation by going to City Council. He demands that Council take a portion the neighbor’s large back yard and make a community playground. He affirms that this action would show how the government is the instrument in providing equality for all.
If this kind of thinking would become the law of the land, we would all lose our property rights. Fortunately we are still a nation of freedoms, and that kind of thinking runs counter to our Founding Fathers’ beliefs. We use government to protect our equal rights not as an instrument to dole out equal things.
Protesters who occupy property that does not belong to them are acting illegally and immorally. This cripples adjacent businesses and ultimately undermines the economy. At the end of the day, what have they accomplished besides leaving parks in squalor? The Occupiers cry for equality, but in a free society there will always be inequality.
It would be refreshing if May 1 came around and our only thoughts were, “welcome, spring.” Since the article that I referenced first was about Mitt Romney’s good ole’ days in 1965, let me tell you why May Day is so memorable to me. I was the May Queen of my high school at about the same time.
WILLEE COOPER is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs on the first and third Friday of each month. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.