As we near the end of the season, we often look to Labor Day as a celebratory time to reminisce about summer’s good times and look forward to autumn’s beginnings. The leaves will brown and crumble and the air will slowly chill, but before the beaches close and schools open, families and friends can enjoy one last hoorah on the weekend of September 5th. Unlike other US Federal Holidays, the history behind Labor Day is often forgotten – which is why this year during our tough economic times I implore you take some time to reflect on the holiday’s legacy.
In 1884, Labor Day was established as a federal holiday when President Grover Cleveland recognized the plight of the labor movement as a prime concern of the US government. Following the deaths of several workers during the Pullman Strike resulting from a violent altercation between the US military and labor unions, Congress rushed to pass legislation that would recognize Labor Day as a national holiday. All US states followed in suit, and the holiday became a representation of the government’s acknowledgement of struggling laborers and the nation’s difficult economic times.
Especially now, with today’s volatile economy and high unemployment rates, Labor Day can be a time of significant reflection on our country’s past strength and unity during difficult times. The original Labor Day parades were expressions of the resilience and spirit of the American public, and in 2011 I hope that our parades will instill the same spirit and hope of the past. I will be barbecuing, beaching and enjoying the fireworks displays with friends and family, but as I watch the sparks spread out across the water, I hope I will be reminded of the strength and perseverance of our nation’s people as I look forward to the start of a new year. Besides the parties and the free time‚ what does Labor Day mean to you, and your family?