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Fayette continues to celebrate Americanism Day after 80 years

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

The celebration of Americanism Day in Fayette County started 80 years ago on May 1, 1933.

And this year, the celebration continues.

Americanism Day was instituted in Uniontown in 1933 when five men — Uniontown police Chief A.W. Davis, recruiting Sgt. James Smith, Matty Bain, Mason McLaughlin and Allen Parke — decided to hold a rally and parade, said Louis Giachetti Sr., who has served as chairman and parade marshal for a number of years.

“It was a compromise aimed at diffusing labor unrest from a dispute and avoiding a possible riot by communists, who wanted to hold a celebration to coincide with May Day in Russia,” said Giachetti, reading from his prepared history. “A coal strike spawned radical acts in mining towns in the county and, at the same time, groups of communists asked permission to hold a parade to celebrate May Day.

“The city was facing a dilemma of risking a riot if the parade was held and stirring up controversy by denying permission for the parade.”

The five men, all members of the American Legion, solved the problem by proposing Americanism Day and including ethnic groups, school children, unions, military veterans, the American Legion and fraternal organizations from around Fayette County.

In 1937, state legislators from Fayette County succeeded in getting a joint resolution passed naming May 1 as Americanism Day.

Giachetti said the celebration in Uniontown has been cut back a bit in recent years, due to the economy.

“But it still is a day to celebrate the ideals and remember those who served and those who have lost their lives defending America,” he said. “Now, 80 years later, the celebration is still going strong,”

Elizabeth McLaughlin, daughter of one of the founders, will be honored, as she has been for every year. McLaughlin has been participating in the parade since it began.

The parade in Uniontown will begin at 7 p.m. on Penn Street and North Gallatin Avenue, proceed on North Gallatin to Main Street, make a right onto North Mt. Vernon Avenue and end in the parking lot of St. Mary (Nativity) Church on North Mt. Vernon.

“There will be four units in the parade,” said Giachetti. “Each unit will be accompanied by a high school marching band.”

Following the parade, there will be a buffet at the American Legion at 406 W. Main St. Parade participants and the general public are invited to attend.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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