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Schools in Lancaster County are closed Monday. And it is a holiday for most of us in the work force. The attachment we have to Labor Day is the extra day off. It also signifies the end of summer.
But have you ever thought about why we celebrate Labor Day? Several folks over the years have been credited with the effort to create a workingman’s holiday. Plans were to designate a day somewhere between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. And September fit the bill. The holiday was celebrated on different dates until Congress passed a law in 1894 designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.
The premise behind the Labor Day holiday is different from the others we celebrate throughout the year.
“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”
The U.S. Department of Labor said Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The early Labor Days were celebrated with parades followed by speeches, picnics and get-togethers. But that has changed over the years. Now, most people celebrate Labor Day with one last end-of-summer trip to the beach or mountains or in backyard picnics. And that’s great. Anyway you celebrate it is OK. But just don’t forget why we celebrate Labor Day.
The Department of Labor said the vital force of labor has added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever know. It has brought us closer to he realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. The agency also said it is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership – the American worker.
The American worker is the backbone of our nation. Without a strong labor force we wouldn’t have or be what we are now. The irony is that so many across the nation – especially locally – have lost their jobs. Now, we are asking our nation’s leaders to find a way to restore our vibrant labor force that was, is and will continue to be our nation’s backbone.
So, go ahead and have that last hurrah of the summer. But take a moment and remember just why we have an opportunity to celebrate.