Today is Labor Day, a U.S. public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that its workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in NYC to celebrate union membership. After the May 1886 Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day in May could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Inn 1887, the U.S. holiday was established in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
The first Labor Day was celebrated Sept 5, 1882 in NYC when over 10,000 workers assembled to participate in the first Labor Day Parade marching from City Hall to Union Square. Afterwards, workers and families met in Reservoir Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches.
Oregon was the first state to grant legal status to the holiday in 1887 followed by Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Colorado. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, 30 states officially celebrated Labor Day. In 1956, the U.S. postal system issued a 3-cent postage stamp commemorating Labor Day.
Today, Labor Day is associated with the end of the summer season, although summer officially ends Sept 21. The holiday weekend has become a major shopping time; many schools resume classes before or immediately after the 3-day holiday weekend.
Our northern neighbor, Canada, celebrates Labour Day the first Monday of September. More than 80 other countries celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1 as their holiday dedicated to labor.
(The poster image is is in the public domain from the U.S. National Archives with no known copyright restrictions. It's from a series based on a World War II poster created by the Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services (1943-19450. The original poster title was "Free Labor Will Win, 1942-1945")
However you spend the day, take time to remember its significance.