Oh sweet Labor Day, the “last call” of summer holidays. We are so relieved to break up the normal routine, we sometimes forget that Labor Day weekend originated as a day of tribute for American workers.
America has grown into a strong and powerful nation. It took sacrifices to bring us to this point. The idea for Labor Day was born after the Industrial Revolution. During that period of history, many Americans worked long hours without weekends to get by. Children of all ages were members of the labor-intensive workforce. At minimum, the work was unsafe and exhausting.
The concept of day that commemorates the average American laborer, captures important sentiments of the era. The first Labor Day is commonly traced back to a parade in New York. On September 5th 1882, over 10,000 people converged over the course of the day. Despite the success of the initial gathering, meant to celebrate laborers across the U.S., the first Monday of September didn’t become an official holiday for years.
Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day in 1887, and soon others followed suit. Finally, in 1896, Labor Day was declared a National holiday.
Labor Day today continues to live on as an homage to the contributions of laborers that built America during a pivotal time period. Without their sacrifices America would not have amassed the same economic momentum, inventive progress, structural advances, and overall strengthening of the country’s collective well-being. All manifest through the laborers on the ground.
Today, as Americans face an entirely new working world – far beyond the circumstances of the Industrial Revolution, Labor Day has taken on its own modern meaning. It symbolizes important time with family, the end of warm weather and a welcome “pause” in the final days of summer.
Although far less tension exists on a National scale, the fabric of American labor still rests on a tone set largely by the Industrial Revolution; a tone of commitment to work and an unyielding hope for progress and prosperity in a land of opportunity.
Today, there are 158.5 million in America’s labor force. This number reflects a variety of occupations, ranging from bankers to laborers and secretaries across the country. Work has certainly shifted over the years, with countless jobs today that never existed when Labor Day was conceptualized.
However, today’s ‘Labor Day’ is one that remains tied to the American dream. Once a rally to inspire and gather America’s laborers, the holiday has grown into a celebratory occasion to commemorate the legacy of work in the United States. The holiday now impacts entire families, allowing workers to take time from their fast-paced, “American” approach to work to bring their loved ones together, enjoy the final days of summer, and appreciate the fruits of their hard work.
Want to see just how far we have come? Watch children discover the world of work in Adecco’s Lemonade Stand video.