The first Monday in September marks a significant day in the United States: Labor Day. This day, free of labor, honors hard working Americans and is one worth celebrating. Many take this day to relax or have some fun, but a lot of individuals do not realize the rich history the day holds.
In the nineteenth century, men and women changed working conditions in the United States immensely by campaigning for labor rights. This campaign, known as the labor movement, is exactly what Labor Day celebrates, recognizing men and women who ultimately suffered for us to have the working conditions and rights we have today. This act of sacrifice highlights the importance of workers and signifies the nation’s strength with economic freedom. Labor Day should be a day of reflection in an attempt to tribute and pay respect to those that played a big role in creating the country.
In 1894, Labor Day became a U.S. federal holiday which was introduced by members of the Labor movement. These same members fought and battled hard for the country to get better working conditions by organizing rallies and strikes. The country’s first Labor Day parade occurred in New York City with over 10,000 people taking unpaid time off to march the streets on September 5, 1882. The union leaders emphasized the importance for a day like this, which eventually spread throughout the whole country, becoming a public holiday.
Labor Day was finally legalized in 1894, after the Pullman strike. Congress was desperate to make peace after this nationwide boycott that gave light to the awful work conditions many Americans were in, such as working 12 hours a day in crowded, dirty spaces. The act was passed to make Labor Day a legal holiday with President Grover officially signing it into law on June 28, 1894. The founder of Labor Day remains unknown although there are many individuals that can be given credit for this special and deserving day.
Most people don’t know the meaning behind Labor Day and why we celebrate it, including Patrick Twigg, a sophomore student at Southern Nazarene University. “I know that we get a day off school, but I am not really sure why it’s a public holiday,” explained Twigg. “I think we need to become more educated on a day like this as it is very important to honor and recognise those that fought so hard for our rights.”
Labor Day holds so much more meaning than just a relaxing day off of work. It’s a day of reflection and admiration to those men and women who struggled on a daily basis for the sustainable working conditions we have today.
Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash