I often overlook the true meaning of many of the holidays we celebrate. The biggest exception to this statement would be Christmas, because I grew up truly celebrating Christmas as the “birthday” of Jesus and every Christmas morning my family would gather around and one of us would read the story of His birth before we did anything else. Growing up, I was always eager to get to the “open the presents!” part – but looking back, I am so glad my parents took a few minutes to remind us of what Christmas was REALLY about for our family.
I find myself at work on Labor Day which seems sort of ironic. But as I was driving to work today, I started wondering – what IS Labor Day, anyway? Why do we celebrate it? Why do people get this day off? Surely, it is more than the mark of the end of summer. More than an excuse to barbeque and play cornhole (although – I wouldn’t mind doing that today!). I thought I remembered something about it having to do with labor unions but wasn’t really sure on the details.
I looked it up when I got to work, and it’s history reaches pretty far back. The first labor day was celebrated in New York as a parade organized by unions on Sept. 5, 1882 to celebrate the spirit and strength of the American worker. It was a time when child labor was rampant, workers labored in terrible conditions without a proper break or proper wages for that matter. This day wasn’t immediately recognized by the entire country, it was a slow process of 12 years before it became a Federal Holiday. It started as an outcry for better working accommodations, decent wages and something that resembled a 8 hour work day.
Over the years, it’s certainly easy to feel like most of us (myself included) have lost sight of what this holiday stood for so long ago. It was the work of Americans who wanted to organize and demand to be treated fairly. Sounds like an honorable thing to me! And I hope that most people would feel like we’ve made major progress toward worker’s rights in the USA although there is always room for improvement.While there is much disagreement regarding labor unions and the like – I’m not taking sides here. Simply sharing a bit of history about this holiday.
A personal goal I have for myself is to try and be more knowledge about history. It seems like so long ago when I took a class that required me to really learn and apply that type of knowledge – but I know how important it is to understand history so that we can make better decisions about the future. So we don’t repeat mistakes unnecessarily, right!?
History was one of my least favorite subjects in high school, but I wonder if i attempted to learn it all again as an adult if I’d be more fascinated by it? I guess it’s worth a try. Any history fanatics out there who would recommend any resources (books, blogs, etc.) to help me get started?