Labor Day— many relate this to barbecues, the U.S. Open Tennis and the beginning of Football, camping and other outdoor related excursions and the knowledge that summer is soon to end. Just that idea alone– “winter is coming” cause us to celebrate this weekend with gusto!
But few of us really understand the meaning behind this beloved holiday. The bloodstained origins that allow us now to work in civilized conditions have been diluted and lost to us as we bask in the last rays of summer.
In 1882 the Knights of Labor held a large parade in New York City proposing the celebration and observance of the working man. His or her continued strength that continue to this day to generate the dollar that keeps our country up and running, and its citizens fed and clothed.
Before that time, the average American was working 12 hour days and seven day weeks in order to keep food on the table. Children were put to work as young as five, in the factories and mills and mines. Conditions for these laborers were poor and dangerous. As production became significant, unions formed to protest the horrific conditions and negotiate pay.
It was a was on May 1st 1886, when many brave men marched (at the peril of losing their jobs) in support of the eight hour work day, which resulted in a strike, and the bloody Haymarket riot in Chicago, resulting in the deaths of eight police officers and the hanging of four labor activists.
There seems to be a discrepancy on the true founding of Labor Day. Some state it was Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters, suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” I found this beautifully said.
Others state that Matthew McGuire, machinist, founded the holiday. But because of his radical positions and ideas, many turned from his favor.
Regardless of its founding, I feel it is important as we fly our flags and fill our beings with steaks, games, fishing and fun, to remember those brave men who stood against corporate and political adversaries to fight for a better position for the working man. It is through their diligence and blood that we are able to earn for our families a much better way of life.
And because we live in America, we believe that through hard work and faith, we can achieve all that we might dream.
Happy Labor Day and Cheers!