When I think of Labor Day, I think of picnics, closing the pool, kids getting back to school, and fall being right around the corner. I never researched why we celebrate Labor Day. After researching it, here is what I found:
Labor Day: How it started
Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Founder of Labor Day
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. (source http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm)
The First Labor Day
On Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, the first Labor Day was celebrated. The second Labor Day was celebrated a year later by The Central Labor Union. The following year, 1884, the first Monday of September was chosen because it was in between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Other states followed New York and celebrated the “workingmen’s holiday” on that Monday.
Labor Day Holiday
States started joining in and making this a holiday from 1884-1894 for a total of 31 states. Congress decided to pass an act to make it a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories on June 28, 1894 and President Grover Cleveland signed making it a nationwide law.
How we celebrate today
For many people, Labor Day signifies the end of summer, the last day at the beach or the last picnic of the year. But lets also make it a day to remember the men and women who work hard to contribute to the success of this great nation we live in.
To all of you who work and do your part to keep this nation number one – I thank you and Happy Labor Day!