Hello to you! How are you today?! It’s Labor day Monday here in the United States. For most of us in these modern times, it’s just another day off of work. It’s important to remember that there is much more to it than that. Like many holidays here in America….people sacrificed everything, to include their lives, so we can enjoy what we do.
Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.
History of Labor Day
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Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.
As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.
On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.
Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday. Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.
Yesterday Kyle and I spent most of our day helping with and watching the Johnson County Soapbox Classic that was held in our Old Town Square here in Alvarado TX. We had so much fun! We went to watch the trial races and found out Kyle’s welding instructor and a couple of students from Hill College’s welding department (https://www.hillcollege.edu/academics/Technical/welding/index.html) had two cars they were racing. Well we ended up just hanging out with them most of the day – helping out and taking pictures. We were just the extra couple of people they needed to have a better day! We think the world of Mr. Brian Bennett and the Hill College Welding Department and this was a great opportunity to give back in a small way!
The race lasted longer than we were able to stay without donating all of our blood to the hungry mosquitos but they ended up 4th overall. Better than last year! This is the 5th year for the event and I can see it growing even bigger. You know what was the best thing for me? Seeing so many grown men get to be kids for a day! The smiles on their faces and just pure joy was a delight to see! I especially loved seeing our local and area police, fire and first responders getting to have some fun for a change! They spend so much of their time under their own and other people’s duress that it’s nice that they could play for a bit! We got to see that those speed scanner’s our police use can scan over a mile btw! One of the cars clocked in at a whopping 18 miles per hour!
These are just a fraction of the photos I took yesterday. Since I have limited photo space here I couldn’t share them all.
https://www.facebook.com/JohnsonCountySoapboxClassic/ – Facebook Page for more information if your curious