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More Than Just a Last Hurrah: Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882, and was organized by the Central Labor Union. The first state to introduce legislation for a Labor Day was New York, but Oregon was the first state to pass an actual law, in 1887. Four more states passed laws that year.

By 1894, 26 other states followed suit, and in June of that year, the U.S. Congress made it a national holiday.

For many years, the holiday was celebrated with huge parades, touting the strength of labor and trade unions; speeches from civic and labor leaders; and large gatherings for the recreation of workers and their families.

Today, Labor Day is seen as the last hurrah of summer.

Still, in a nation that doesn’t take enough time from work, it is a respite for most workers. And that is what we celebrate.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

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