Why We Celebrate Labor Day

August 28, 2014-  On September 1, 2014 people all around the United States will observe Labor Day in the companionship of family and friends.   The day will be marked by family gatherings, parades, beach trips, and the 2nd largest retail shopping day of the year (Black Friday is the first).  While most Americans associate the holiday with the last chance to frolic in the Summer Sun, as the season draws to a close, and others view it as the final celebration before the “back to school” mayhem commences, it is important to remember what the holiday stands for, and to, briefly, recall its history.

Labor Day is a celebration of the American worker. In the words of the United States Department of Labor, the holiday “is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”  This, truly, is the one day a year dedicated to the men and women who labor all year long to solidify the economic viability, prosperity, and vitality of the nation.  While the face of the labor force has changed dramatically since its adoption, it is the one day when citizens are encouraged to devote, at the very least, a moment to the rich, proud history of the American worker.

The idea of a Labor holiday started to take hold in the 1880’s, with individual states, including New York State, adopting legislation to recognize American Workers.   It took, approximately, ten years before the concept took hold as a national concept, and the holiday became adopted as a National Day of Observance in 1894.  Upon adoption it was determined that the holiday would be observed on the first Monday of each September, in order to provide an extended weekend in a time when Sunday was a day devoted to families in the United States.

Over the, more than, 100 years since the adoption of Labor Day as a holiday the relative unity and bargaining powers of American workers, as well as their economic conditions, have varied considerably.   What has not changed is the importance of the American worker in maintaining the United States as a vital presence in the global economy.  While football, retail sales, NASCAR, and “back to school “may be on the minds of Americans over the Labor Day weekend take some time to be thankful for the workers.

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