Who knew that inaugurations had names? According to a proclamation entered into the National Register, the official record will remember Donald Trump's big day as the "National Day of Patriotic Devotion" — a name rife with ominous echoes from the past.
Some observers noted that "patriotic devotion" has been a theme of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's speeches. But there's an American precedent, too, and like Trump's inauguration day rhetoric about "America First," there is a troublesome history behind it.
The last American "day of patriotic devotion" came nearly a century ago with the advent of the draft during World War I. Facing a shortage of troops, President Woodrow Wilson had reluctantly agreed to the Army's demand to conscript American soldiers.
Wilson announced that "the stern sacrifice that is before us urges that it be carried in all our hearts as a great day of patriotic devotion and obligation, when the duty shall lie upon every man, whether he is himself to be registered or not, to see to it that the name of every male person of the designated ages is written on these lists of honor."
Wilson's draft, like the war it was intended to help fight, was unpopular enough that the president made selling it the responsibility the Committee of Public Information — an inter-departmental propaganda effort to push public opinion towards support of the war.
Rumblings of Trump proclaiming the modern iteration of a "patriotic devotion" day came shortly after the president was sworn in on Jan. 20. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, tweeted that there would be a "proclamation for nat'l day of patriotism."
Only when the proclamation was signed, however, did Americans learn that the national day of patriotism would mark Trump's inauguration.
The proclamation established "January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country — and to renew the duties of Government to the people."
Commemorating one's inauguration with a name isn't uncommon. In 2009, according to the Washington Post, President Barack Obama marked his inauguration as a "National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation."