Labor Day was created to honor the workforce of our country and is observed annually on the first Monday in September, the end of summer for many American workers. It also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.
The labor movement established Labor Day in the late 19th century, became a federal holiday in 1894. It originated at the height of the industrial Revolution in the United States. The average person worked 12 hour days and seven day weeks in order to make a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as five or six toiled in the mills, factories and mines across the county, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient fresh air, and sanitary facilities.
As manufacturing increasingly replaced agriculture in American employment, labor unions, which first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions. Many of these events turned violent during this period. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall.
Time Off March from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade.
The idea of a workingman’s holiday on the first Monday in September caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing the holiday. Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Labor Day continues celebrations in cities and towns across the United States
With parades, fireworks and other public gatherings, the Labor Day weekend is one of he deadliest periods for impaired driving deaths. City and county law enforcement agencies will be out in the effort to crack down on impaired driving and reduce roadway fatalities. Supporting these heroes who keep us safe on the roads is a critical part of MADD’s campaign to eliminate drunk driving. The use of safety checkpoints by law enforcement agencies is a valuable weapon in the war against driving related death and injury.
Impaired driving is not an accident. It is an epidemic of careless disregard for human life!
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.