The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882 when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off in New York City to march in a parade from City Hall to Union Square. They proposed that American workers should be honored with their own day. Twenty-three other states soon followed their example, and in 1894 President Grover Cleveland officially made it a federal holiday. This year marks the 140th anniversary of that march, and is a great opportunity to remember why this is an important holiday, and why we have the day off of work.
Although many consider Labor Day to be the unofficial “end of summer”, the holiday is so much more than that. The reason many of us can enjoy summer weekends full of delicious food and exciting vacations is because of the valuable contributions and achievements of American workers. The holiday honors workers’ rights, such as child labor laws, paid sick days, 40 hour work weeks, and fair working conditions, as well as workers’ contributions to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
Labor Day is also a chance to celebrate the U. S. free enterprise system. This means that men and women have the opportunity to own economic resources and to use those tools to create goods and services for sale. Free enterprise works because it allows people to do what they do best and trade for the rest. Competition is a driving force of free enterprise, resulting in greater efficiency and lower prices for the consumer. Countries embracing free market principles benefit from a higher standard of living. Free markets are an extension of personal freedom, which is why it’s so important to recognize and celebrate.
While you’re enjoying your day off, relaxing and spending time with your family, don’t forget to take a moment to think about the reason behind the holiday. There are many rights that we enjoy as Americans that our ancestors had to fight and rally for. Let’s continue to remember, and not take them for granted.