Labor Day: A Celebration of American Achievement

Workers marched from Fifth Avenue to Union Square in New York City in the first Labor Day parade in 1882

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.

     ~Doug Larson, columnist

Americans flock to the lake or beach, attend picnics and parades or just enjoy a day off work every year on the first Monday of September. The celebration of Labor Day turns 130 years old in 2012, having originated in 1882.

History isn’t totally clear on the origins of Labor Day. The two prevailing theories are that it was either started by a machinist in New York, Matthew Maguire, while he was serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union, or our celebration of the holiday was imported from our neighbor to the North after labor leader Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor brought the idea back from Toronto.

What isn’t in dispute is that the first Labor Day parade was in September 1882 in New York City, and in 1894 President Grover Cleveland declared the first Monday in September as National Labor Day.

Yes, the American economy is in tough shape as we celebrate the achievement of American workers this Labor Day. Americans need a combination of hard work and austerity to weather our current economic situation, a New American Ethic, as I called it in a previous column.

However, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, the U.S. is still the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world. Not that they’re biased or anything.

Either way, that’s something to celebrate.

Excelling in our current economy may be no picnic, but we can recognize the value of hard work and the entrepreneurial capitalistic enterprise that built this country in the first place by celebrating with one.

What will you be doing this Labor Day?