It’s Labor Day. I decided to post a few trivia questions about Labor Day to see if you could answer them or if you want to impress your kids, ask them the questions. I will supply the answers at the end of this column.
Who is considered the father of Labor Day?
When was the first U.S. Labor Day celebrated?
What country is said to have originated the idea to host a Labor Day?
Why do we celebrate Labor Day?
What state was the first state to declare Labor Day a holiday seven years before the president declared it a national holiday?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answers. I am sure somewhere in the past I have heard the answers to all of those questions. I would imagine my history teachers when I was in school covered the subject of Labor Day. I wonder how many kids now know why we celebrate Labor Day. Do you suppose history in school covers this today?
I know we anticipate the holiday. Many years kids start school right after the Labor Day holiday. This year all my grandchildren started school many weeks before the holiday weekend, so this weekend is a break from school.
In Minnesota the state fair is on. The Renaissance Festival has begun and festivities abound celebrating the last fun weekend we have before we get back to the grind of normal life after the summer.
Labor Day started as a day to recognize contributions men and women made to the American workforce. In the 19th century, Americans worked 12- hour days, seven days a week. These workers wanted an eight hour workday.
Today we should also be celebrating the American workers. I doubt that the stress workers feel today is any less than those workers protesting when Labor Day was established. We have many people working for minimum wage, working long hours and intensive jobs for little pay, struggling to put food on the table. Because of technology many people are on call 24/7. They can’t get away from the office, and companies expect them to be there when they call. Eight-hour days are not the norm for many. And part of the workforce work two and three jobs to make ends meet.
Jobs are more diverse, and the factory jobs of the past no longer are as prevalent so more education is needed to secure employment.
We still need to celebrate the American worker because they are the backbone of America from garbage collectors to plumbers to doctors and lawyers to the clerk that hands you your coffee in the coffee shop. These people are all needed to make our society work.
So on this day, look around you and if you see someone working, say thank you. And then pat yourself on the back as you leave for work or as you are thankful you are retired from a lifetime of being one of the workers who makes our country run. This is your day. Thank you for what you have contributed.
1. Peter McGuire
2. Sept. 5,1882
4. To celebrate the American Worker