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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Labor Day no longer honors labor; today it marks holiday to end summer

Labor Day started as a day to honor laborers and the labor movement. Today, it has become the last fling of summer when people head to the lake or light up the barbecue grill for a family cookout.
There are folks who celebrate the day honoring the labor movement. A few communities still have Labor Day parades, but things have changed. While the holiday has become primarily a fun-filled last weekend of summer, even that has changed a bit.
Kids used to start school after Labor Day. Now some already have been in school nearly a month. Park swimming pools closed after Labor Day, and now many close in early August.
During a trip to Kentucky Lake, it was obvious kids had already headed back to school, and families were already in the fall routine. Many tourist related businesses had either cut back hours during the week, or closed, and were only open on the weekend.
Labor Day grew out of a parade and celebration to honor workings by the Knights of Labor in New York in 1882. Two years, later the Knights held an even larger parade in New York City. The parade was on the first Monday in September, and the Knights passed a resolution to hold it on the same Monday each year.
The first states to declare Labor Day as a state holiday were Oregon, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey in 1887. Then in 1894, the United States Congress passed a law recognizing Labor Day as an official national holiday.
It isn’t certain who came up with the idea of a Labor Day celebration. Some records show Peter McGuire of the Carpenters and Joiners union was the founder; however many people believe a machinist named Matthew Maguire first proposed the celebration.
The form that early leaders felt the celebration should take were outlined in the initial proposal of the holiday--a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.
However you plan to celebrate the day, it is nearly at hand. Where has the short summer gone?

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