Labor Day is officially observed on the first Monday of September, and is a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and wellbeing of our country.
Over time, the nation put more emphasis on Labor Day. The first recognition through municipal ordinances in 1885. The first state to pass legislation recognizing Labor Day was Oregon in 1887. By 1894, 23 other states had recognized Labor Day as a state holiday, and Congress then made the first Monday of each September a legal national holiday starting on June 28, 1894.
The origins of Labor Day are still subject to debate. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, a union officer and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to suggest honoring those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Others believe that Mathew Maguire, a machinist member of the International Association of Machinists in Patterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882. What is known is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic to celebrate.
The first official Labor Day celebration was held in New York City in 1884, and by 1885 the holiday was recognized as the “workingmen’s holiday”, and soon became the now-familiar national celebration, which is recognized as the final celebration of the summer season each year. Street parades, speeches by prominent citizens, picnics and outdoor fun have grown to be the way we celebrate the remarkable contributions of labor in our country.
The vital labor force has contributed to the high national standard of living and great production to which the world has become accustomed. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day – and every day – to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.
As we gather this Labor Day to celebrate, let’s pause to recognize the great contributions made by the American worker.
Happy Labor Day!