The founding of Labor Day is hazy. There are some historians who claim that the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, Peter McGuire, initiated the holiday. Others state that a secretary of the Central Labor Union proposed the holiday. But either way, in 1882, on the 5th of September in 1882, the first Labor Day parade took place in New York City, where 10,000 people took an unpaid day off from work to celebrate the American workforce and show their desire for better working conditions and better treatment in the workplace.
In the years to follow many local municipalities created ordinances to commemorate Labor Day. From there, New York state became the first to have such a holiday proposed in its state legislature, but on February 2l, l887 Oregon became the first state to pass such a law. Soon after, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York followed suit.
In 1894, after 12 years of more parades being held in more cities across America, and after more states making Labor Day an official holiday, on June 28th, Congress finally made it a legal national holiday.
Credit for the holiday’s spirit is totally in the domain of the American labor unions, which have undeniably stood up for workers rights. On Labor Day there is to be no doubt about the sincerity involved in the labor movements earlier days. That spirit never asked for more than what any American deserved. They truly helped to create safe conditions, decent wages and compassion for others in regards to the human condition and all that comes with it. In that sense, in the sense that Labor Day and the unions that led to the holiday and the improved conditions that the American workforce deserves, it is a day as worthy of celebration as any other celebration that marks momentous occasions and events in our history.
But there is another side of Labor Day that is also celebrated. It is the side that rejoices in the dignity of labor. Labor affords one a sense of purpose, as well as the opportunity to rejoice in the fruits of their labors. It is a driving force that does more than just keep an economy strong, it keeps ones soul strong.
So, rightfully so, we celebrate Labor Day. For many it is celebrated as part of a three day weekend marking the psychological end of the summer season and so they join in festivities that make the most of summers last hurrah.
That is for many, but not me. How did I celebrate the Labor Day weekend?
I celebrated by laboring.
I spent the holiday working on what I do best.
I began the weekend off by spending most of my Saturday developing a campaign plan for a friend who is running in a race for mayor that is rather unique to me. It is much different than races that I am use to. So in some ways it was a challenge and I found myself changing a great many approaches and strategies to better fit the unique circumstances in this race.
By Saturday evening, with that mostly completed, I began to sift through a ton of information given to me by the chief of staff for a Governor who has retained me for an ongoing project.
As Sunday dawned, I continued to familiarize myself with the voluminous amount of data from the Governor’s office and tried to make heads or tails of it all. I will spend much, if not all the day sorting through it and making notes. But as day turns to night I will probably take a break, only to find myself writing a blog post for my personal entertainment.
But by Monday, Labor Day, I will have to buckle down and create two editorials for a daily newspaper that I write a weekly political column for. Both of these editorials need to be submitted by Tuesday, their deadline.
So unlike many, I am not celebrating Labor Day with a barbecue or a dip in the tidal waters of the Jersey Shore. I am celebrating the holiday with labor. A labor of love which gives me a sense of purpose, provides me with a sense of pride and dignity and hopefully makes a difference, if not to everyone, than maybe at least someone.