Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day

I just realized that Monday is Labor Day.  When I was younger Labor Day meant no school and amazing sales.  When I was older it meant a paid day off from work. Now it means everyone gets to sleep in because there is no work or school.  My oldest was born on Labor Day.  During my entire pregnancy I thought it was awesome that my due date was Labor Day.  Since most people don't go into labor on their actual due date I never really thought she would be born on Labor Day..but she was.  I still tell her that her birthday was a national holiday. 

We have so many  holidays in the US.  Today it dawned on me that I have always looked at Labor Day as a day off without knowing the actual meaning behind it.  I assumed it had something to do with work but other than that I couldn't tell you anything about it.  Just another excuse to get a paid day off and grill some burgers and hot dogs. 

Today I decided to find out the history behind Labor Day and it was pretty interesting. Labor Day is a celebration of the American Labor Movement and is dedicated to the achievements of the country's workers. It is an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the many accomplishments American workers have made to the well being of our county.  On February 21, 1887 Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day a holiday, they stole the idea from Canada. Shout out to Canada for coming up with a reason to have a lazy day.  In 1894 it became a national holiday.  By this time there were already 30 states that celebrated it as a holiday. Labor Day was initially to be celebrated on May 1st.  The Haymarket Affair was on May 4, 1886.  A little history: On May 1 thousands of workers went on strike across the country in support of the 8 hour day becoming standard.  Workers chanted "8 hour day with no cut in pay".  The strike was relatively nonviolent.  When the end of day work bell sounded a crowd of workers rushed to the gates of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago to confront the strikebreakers. This resulted in police actions 2 workers were killed.  Locals immediately called for a rally the following day at the Haymarket Square claiming that police had killed the workers on behalf of business interest and advised workers to join in to seek justice for the killed.  Fliers were distributed that said "Working men arm yourselves and appear in full force!".  The rally began peacefully.  Police arrived at 10:30p.m. telling the workers to disperse.  At this point there was no violence and the rally was very calm.  A home made bomb was thrown into the crowd killing an officer and injuring many. Police and workers began firing on each other.  A total of 7 officers and at least 4 workers were killed.  60 officers were wounded.  President Grover Cleveland was fearful that celebrating Labor Day on May 1 would be an opportunity to commemorate this tragic series of events and the decision was made to move Labor Day to Sept 1st. 

On Monday, when we are all enjoying our day off and relaxing by the pool, lets all take a moment to remember the hard work that it took to make our country what it is today.

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