It may surprise you that the United States was a nation for 106 years before the first Labor Day celebration was held. The holiday, which was the result of labor activists pushing for a national holiday to honor the contributions of American workers, did not evolve until 1882 when the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City on September 5th.
It took another 12 years before it was signed into law in 1894 as a federal holiday by President Grover Cleveland, but in the intervening years, laws were passed in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania recognizing the holiday.
According to the US Department of Labor, Alderman Matthew Maguire, proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
Peter J. McGuire, another Labor Day advocate and general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor wanted the holiday to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
That feels like a fitting characterization.
So as we grill and swim and enjoy the last remnants of summer this Labor Day, let us not forget those who through incredibly hard work have “delved and carved” the grandeur of the US.
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