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Labor Day celebrates hardworking people

By Emily Stephan
On August 29, 2014

If all the major holidays of the year were one big family, then Labor Day would be that one holiday everyone forgets. They would show up at the party, but no one would remember where they came from or how they were related.

Nevertheless, few begrudge the existence of Labor Day, since a day off is a day off. While most people are grateful for Labor Day in that it gives them a Monday free from school and work, few are aware of the day’s origins.

For most, Labor Day means barbeque and general relaxation. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

The first Labor Day was observed in 1882, but it was not yet a nationwide affair. According to the How Stuff Works website, it was only observed in New York City and commemorated with a parade of ten thousand participants meant to show off the great spirit of the labor unions and working men to the community. Following the parade, the community indulged in a festival. Strangely, this first Labor Day was held on the first Tuesday of September, according to the America’s Library website.

The Department of Labor states the identity of the person who came up with the idea for Labor Day remains a matter of speculation among historians. The prime candidates for the position are Matthew Maguire, the secretary of the Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists, and Peter J. McGuire, one of the co-founders for the American Federation of Labor. Though the individual whom proposed the holiday remains unknown, historians are aware of the year in which Labor Day was first made official. In 1894, Congress made Labor Day a national holiday. It was established as an official holiday in Canada as well.

Though its 19th century origins are little known by the general public, students usually consider Labor Day a welcome respite from the chaotic first few weeks of getting back into the academic groove for the fall.

“Labor Day is a great way to relax and unwind, unless you are bombed with homework,” said Jeffrey Balint, a computer science major.

A brighter way to look at Balint’s take on the holiday is to consider this free Monday an excellent way to get a head start on studying and school projects before the student body becomes swamped with stress and deadlines. Still, it is important to remember where the day off came from.

“Because labor day is the celebration of hardworking people, it’s a day where we can appreciate the people who have help put us in the position to succeed in our own lives,” said Evan Hollier, a kinesiology major. “As students, our next life goal is graduating from school and continuing our journey through the workplace.”

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