Labor Day – Thanks To The American Worker

Some people think Labor Day is another opportunity to plan a picnic, swimming party, go to a movie or go shopping, but the day actually has significance.

The Labor Day holiday is on the first Monday of every September and celebrates the contributions made by the workers of this country, which have made America the most prosperous country on Earth. The first Labor Day holiday actually took place on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. It is commonly thought that Peter J. McGuire, who was general secretary of the “Brotherhood of Carpenters,” designated the holiday. McGuire went on to become co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. However, others believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. The Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the official holiday and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first legislation to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit.

By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. By resolution of the American Federation of Labor at a convention in 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership – the American worker. So, if you do go shopping or to a movie, take a moment to thank those workers who do not have the day off to celebrate.

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