Labor Day is the last major holiday of summer. Labor Day signifies the end of summer. We often celebrate the day with picnics and parades. It is a tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.
“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.”
John D. Rockefeller
Before we celebrate Labor Day weekend, let us remember, that in the late 1800’s, in the height of the industrial revolution, the average American worked 12 hour days, seven days a week, for very low wages. Worse than the hours adults worked, children as young as five or six worked in unsafe mills, factories and mines across the country.
Finally, after much strife, Labor Day became an official holiday in the late l9th century and became a Federal holiday in 1894. The true founder of Labor Day is yet to be identified, even today.
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
The minimal role of child labor in the United States today is one of the more remarkable changes in the social and economic life of the nation over the last two centuries. Let us be thankful that we live in a time where children are not expected to work long hours in dangerous conditions.
“A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.”
“The end of labor is to gain leisure.”
Now go have a picnic.
March in a parade.
Eat great food.
Enjoy this last holiday of the summer.
But never forget those children of yesteryear who toiled in the mills and factories. Chances are they were your ancestors.
By Lois Jamieson
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