Monday, September 3, 2012

Why We Celebrate Labor Day

“Labor was the first price, the original purchase money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or silver, but by labor, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
Adam Smith

Labor Day is the last major holiday of summer and falls on the first Monday in September. Labor Day was created in the late 19th century and became a Federal holiday in 1894. We celebrate the day as a tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.

Today, most of us enjoy the three day weekend, and celebrate by going on vacation, picnicking, and watching parades.

Let’s not forget that in the late 1800’s, during the height of the industrial revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for very low wages. Children, as young as 5 or 6, worked in unsafe mills, factories and mines across the country.

One of the worst examples of this was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911. The fire caused the death of 146 garment workers, mostly young immigrant women and some children. They were working on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the building and were trapped in the fire. The doors to the stairway were locked to keep them from stealing.

Let us take a moment to remember these workers, and be thankful that children today do not have to work in factories.

“Without labor nothing prospers.”

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