"Mr. Caliguire, What is Labor Day all about anyway?"
I sought to sound smarter than a fifth grader as my son's friend asked an honest question as served burgers and dogs in my kitchen last night. "Well, it, um, is kind of way of remembering and celebrating, uh, people who work labor jobs. It started in the industrial times when many people worked in factories and it was a way of noting their contributions to society."
Smarter than a fifth grader? Not much if at all! Partial credit?
The truth is that for most of us the closest Labor Day gets to honoring workers is thanking the guy or gal who does the grilling! Sure, it marks the unofficial end of summer and the start of NFL and college football (the divine grace for those who must now start school and put up with approaching cold weather!) But, might Labor day be a bit more? Possibly a time to stop and recognize the positive contribution that meaningful work makes to our own lives and to our nation as whole? (that assumes that we have meaningful work at this time, which can't be assumed for far too many, right?) Hmmm...
A few FAQs about Labor Day (or really non FAQ's since few really ask "What is Labor Day anyway?" truth be told) Just in case someone asks you the question while serving burgers and dogs.
1. Labor Day has been a national holiday since 1894. In the aftermath of the Pullman strike that year when nearly 3 dozen workers died at the hands of US Marshalls, President Grover Cleveland was eager to appease labor.
2. Samuel Gompers said Labor Day was to be "an occasion for toilers to lay down their tools and march shoulder to shoulder" (Try that one in your neighborhood or at your family picnic!)
3. The US Department of Labor web site says it is "dedicated to the social and economic achievement of American workers. It constitutes yearly national tribute to the contribution workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country."
So.... as the late Paul Harvey would say, "Now you (and I) know the rest of the story."
Have a great Labor Day!
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