As we all get a nice three-day weekend in America for Labor Day, and as we all picnic (albeit hopefully social distance picnicking) and head to the beach, it’s a good idea to recall what labor day is really about in America. Hint: not picnics — officially.
Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, and is a true American holiday. It is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers … hence, in my opinion, a day to picnic and party. It is an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
But it wasn’t a holiday that was awarded to the people out of thanks. Labor Day is actually the result of many unhappy workers striking in the late 1800’s, finally forcing the government to finally pay tribute to them.
The holiday has roots dating back to 1882, when the first city to celebrate the workers of America was New York. Unions organized parades and the Central Labor Union (CLU) executed the events. Two years later, Oregon instituted Labor Day as an actual holiday, passing that plan into legislations as of 1887. The first Monday in September was selected as the date of the holiday. Following a host of state celebrations, the US Congress voted in 1894 to make it a national holiday. President Grove Cleveland signed it into law.
Today, Labor Day celebrations included parades and picnics, and symbolizes an unofficial end of summer. With COVID-19 upon us this year, ending a summer that barely happened is a difficult thing to do. As such, many beaches are extending their summer hours into September — adding lifeguards — so some vestiges of normalcy can continue just a little longer.
I know I am celebrating the weekend by enjoying time off of work, time in the pool and with family and friends. We need to celebrate a little — even in the midst of COVID-19. Enjoy