The first Monday of September. It’s a marking point that means the school year has come. Technically, it’s also the last day to wear white in a socially acceptable manner. All these points aside, Labor Day has a deeper meaning.
The first official Labor Day was held on September 5th, 1882, in New York City, and by 1894, 23 more states were celebrating the holiday as well. In June of 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law that declared the first Monday in September a national holiday.
Originally Labor Day was meant as a rallying cry for the Labor movement, which during the height of the American industrial boom was heavily focused on improving the quality of life for the American working class. The original holiday was celebrated with a parade through the streets of New York meant to celebrate “the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.” Each holiday in following years became more and more organized with local trade unionists and labor movement activists speaking to large crowds.
While the depths of history have swallowed the definitive answer to who created the holiday, they have not forgotten the true meaning of the holiday. Throughout America’s growth one factor has been constant, the American worker. Without those of us who staff factories, stores, and other areas of labor our country would not be where it is today. So, the first Monday of September is, and forever will be, a testament to the Americans who have worked to make the United States what they are today.
Nathan is the Director of Education, Events, & Exhibits at the FHA.
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