Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Labor Day

Labor Day, September 5, 2011

We have enjoyed this holiday for a long time. But gaining it's status as a National Holiday was not easily won.

Step back in time. It's 1894 and the labor movement is trying to gain recognition for the average worker. There are attempts to have the work day limited to eight hours. Previous attempts to celebrate this day set aside for the workers, resulted in troops being called in to disband the effort. This resulted in the death of several individuals. The then president Grover Cleveland tried to make the labor movement his top priority in the coming election. However, the wounds were still too fresh for him to overcome the fierce beginning of the labor movement.

The first state to recognize Labor Day was Oregon on Feb 21, 1887. By the end of the year four more states followed, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. By the end the 1894, 23 more states joined the band wagon. Finally on June 28, 1894 it was made a National Holiday.

So what will you be thinking of this Labor Day? Will you appreciate the efforts it took to bring about this celebration? Will the American worker be thought of as you celebrate. And as strange as it may seem, will you even think of the people who died trying to have a day to recognize the workers. Or will we think of it as just our last leisure day of the summer.

Yes, we live in the land of the free; but that is only because of the brave. Not all of the brave wear a military uniform. Although we support our troops; we must also be aware of others who fought to bring about things we take for granted in our current life.

Some towns will have a parade. I remember my hometown having a parade consisting of my cousin Sonny leading the parade by riding his motorcycle, the fire truck and the volunteers all aboard the truck and seeing my cousin Joyce sitting on the back seat of a convertible waving to the crowd as someone threw out penny candy. Never once in my life did I appreciate the meaning and effort it took to bring about Labor Day. To me it was the last of summer's fun, today I know and appreciate the efforts of those individuals so long ago brought us Labor Day.

Celebrate, remember and stay safe.


  1. Labor Day has evolved through the years from people living in the day of the struggle, to people remembering the struggle, and sadly now to just another American Summer Holiday weekend of cookouts, backyard picnics, and liesure.
    There is no doubt that the early Labor Movement took working class Americans out of the sweat shops, and that the early Labor Unions were responsible for easing the mindless, endless toil of the factories, wells, and mines of America in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This movement created safer working conditions, shortened working hours, raised wages, and enabled these workers and their families to create the vibrant and culture unique American Middle Class.
    The movement achieved it's goals. There is no doubt about this. But, instead of recognizing that these goals were achieved and downsizing to monitoring to be sure the gains were continued, the Labor Unions, being used to the money and attention they were getting, decided to push for ever more and more. At one time they were the solution to the labor problem. Now they have become the labor problem. Because of Unions, "American Made" has gone from affordable and the best there is, to products becoming prohibitively expensive for the average American family. Thus they enabled the door to be opened to more affordable goods being made in Taiwan, the Philipines, Mexico, Japan, and China.
    Once we celebrated the proud achievements of labor's struggle for a better life for America's work force. Now we celebrate leisure, cookouts, and the ability to buy more affordable goods from workers in foreign countries.
    John Saseen

  2. I'm not fond of unions now. I agree with the first commenter -- they served a crucial purpose at a time they were needed, but too often in our time they are the problem. I live in a city with public transportation and the drivers are unionized. When they have gone out on strike, it becomes a survival issue for anyone like me without a car. Their last strike lasted 44 days. When nurses strike, it puts patients at risk, etc., etc.

    What is the solution?

  3. Okay, I have to admit that I am on the last-holiday-of-the-summer bandwagon. Thank you for enlightening me!