Labor Day, not just a day off

Megan Grams, Sports Editor

The first Monday in September is looked forward to by most in America because it is a day off from either school or work, but this begs a question. What is Labor Day really about?

Labor Day was created for the purpose of the labor movement and celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. Thus creating the yearly day off in September as a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America.

Throughout the years, the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition was in 1885-1886 through municipal ordinances and from this a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill to be proposed was in the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed in Oregon on February 21, 1887. By 1894, 30 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

After more than 100 years of celebrating Labor Day, there is still doubt about who proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire was first to suggest a day in honor of those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” McGuire’s place in Labor Day history does not go unchallenged; many believe that Matthew Maguire  founded the holiday. Research recently supports that Maguire, proposed the idea in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. It is clear that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The first Labor Day celebration took place on September 5, 1882, in New York City. In 1884 the first Monday in September was officially appointed the holiday. Central Labor Union urged similar organizations to join in and to celebrate this ‘working men’s holiday’.This idea soon spread with the growth of labor organizations in 1885.

The first proposal of Labor Day celebrations included a parade which was followed by a festival, amusing the workers and their families.  This soon became a nationwide tradition that has carried on and into 2017.



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