“All Up For ‘Citizenship Day’” (E13)

  • Originally Published: Life Magazine, October 26, 1922
  • First Reprinted: Never reprinted
  • Original Byline: R.C.B.


Even the Apostle of Applesauce had his limits, and RB reaches his in contemplating the proposed advent of yet another Patriotic Holiday. This little Battle Ahem of the Republic suffers greatly from its attempt to confront the abyssal absurdities of American Civic Religion head on. With the gaudy austerities of the roaring twenties in full swing and the tumorous open secret of Jim Crow lynch law pressing heavily upon the nation’s frontal lobe, ol’ Uncle Sam’s huzzah-haunted hypocrisy was just too big to foil at this time (one can only hope the condition isn’t permanent). Benchley’s targets are too self-evident and too painfully unassailable; and his mock allegorical floats of fancy never leave the ground.

On a brighter note, “Citizenship Day” did fail to reach red letter day status on November 4, 1922 – a fizzle RB must have drunk to. However, the concept did eventually gain country-wide traction, metastasizing into Pact With Hell and Covenant With Death (aka Constitution) Day.

Favourite Moment:
“At the other end [of an allegorical float representing the Dignity of the Law] is shown New York City enforcing the Prohibition laws. Someone seems to be accepting money from someone else in this group, but you can’t quite make out who the parties are.”

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