Do you know the history of Labor Day?
Each year in the United States, the first Monday of September, we celebrate Labor Day! But how many of us understand the reason why or its importance? Most of us welcome the opportunity to sleep in an extra day. Or spend time with family and friends having barbeques, outdoor picnics, fireworks, and other activities to celebrate this national holiday. It is our annual celebration of the contributions of workers and the achievements made throughout history. But there is more to the story!
In the late 19th century of this country, as our nation was at the height of the Industrial Revolution, workers in America worked on average 12 hours a day and worked all seven days of the week. Ouch! But back then it was a necessity to make a basic living. While some states had restrictions on child labor, it did little to prohibit children as young as five or six from working in factories, mills, and mines throughout the country.
To make matters worse, these children earned but a fraction of their adult counterparts. Immigrants and the very poor faced conditions that by today’s standards would have all of us seeking legal counsel. They met such things as unsanitary conditions, poor air quality (or access to fresh air, as in the mines) and, well breaks were just non-existent.
The more industrialized we became, agriculture no longer was the leading source for income, and labor unions became more vocal and subsequently more active. They began organizing themselves. By exercising their right to free speech, protests were an outcry to the deplorable conditions in which they worked, day in and day out, as well as a venue in which to negotiate better pay and hours. These were not like the peaceful protests of the 60’s when peace and love were the mantras of the masses. They often became violent, like the Haymarket Riot of 1886 where several people, including police officers, were killed.
However, while many chose to riot, others took to a tradition. In New York City, the first Labor Day parade was held on September 5th, 1882. At least ten thousand workers, using unpaid time from work, marched from City Hall to Union Square. Known as the “Working Man’s Holiday” other industrial areas throughout the country followed suit. While some states passed the legislation recognizing Labor Day on the first Monday in September, it would not become a recognized holiday until 12 years later, voted by Congress, in 1894. To learn more about Labor Day and the history of the men, women, and children that sacrificed their lives and health in the early years of our nation’s history, visit https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day-1.
So today, as you celebrate with families, friends, and co-workers over hotdogs and burgers or celebrate doing absolutely nothing; be mindful that those that came before us. Lift your glass of sweet tea or a nice cold one and be grateful for those who sacrificed before us.
Today, our country celebrates you, the men and women of this great nation who do not just work for a paycheck but who contribute to the growth of these United States of America. And remember, regardless of whether you sweep floors or are the leader in Fortune 500 company, you make a difference.
Here at Spirit Metals, we wish to thank you for your contributions, to our country. You are critical to our continued success as a nation, we value you, and we hold dear the importance of your labor. Our goal is to serve the needs of our customer's needs on every level. We believe that partnering with or customers in every way allows us all to be successful. Contact us today via email or call us at 813-444-2022 – let us quote your next project!