The True Meaning of the First Monday of September

For all of us, I am sure that Labor Day has different meanings. For me, it is one of my favorite holidays not because markets and thusly our office is closed. No….for me, Labor Day means:

  • 1. The summer is over and children are back to school. Since both of mine are college aged, not only are they back in school, but they are out of my house. No more searching for phone chargers, my keys, tripping over shoes left in the middle of the floor and smokeless tobacco spit cups breeding in my son’s room.
  • 2. The Saturday before Labor Day means dove season is open and it means I get to hunt at Tom Berry’s farm with great friends where the after party is more fun than the hunting. Labor Day also marks waterfowl season opening is around the corner and I’ll be hunting somewhere in October.
  • 3. Most importantly, it means college football season is officially open. No less than 42 games will be available to us junkies on a football binge after being deprived for close to 6 months.

I am sure each of you has your own definition of the holiday, but did you know that Labor Day was the 1882 brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, founder of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and a socialist? Unions during that day were founded and lead by socialists who clung to the same ideals espoused by Marx and Lenin.

Unions during the late 19th century were breeding grounds for socialist activity due mainly to the harsh excesses that companies heaped on workers. Twelve to fourteen hour days, seven days work weeks with few or no holidays made fertile ground for subversive political growth. And I think we all would agree that unions were necessary to bring about changes concerning child labor, work days, fair wages, and improving safety conditions. All you have to do is read Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, “The Jungle”, to recognize change was a necessity.

Like many holidays, Labor Day became politicized by Grover Cleveland who was trying to be re-elected and saw an opening with the AFL-CIO. Even though the holiday was recognized in 23 states in 1884, it was not an official Federal holiday so workers didn’t get paid for missing work. So President Cleveland proposed successful legislation that passed legitimized the first Monday of September and helped him receive a second term.

Ironically, the celebration of the worker took on its own life in the Communist and Socialist countries of the Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, and Cuba and becoming known as May Day. I will never forget the chilling black and white television images of Soviet parades with goose-stepping Russian soldiers passing the parade stands along with ballistic missiles and tanks being slowly paraded as a show of strength. Today many other countries like Greece and Portugal use it as a time to create havoc about their working conditions and May Day is a day for rioters and arsonists.

So as I reflect upon the origins of Labor Day and the manifestations it has taken on internationally, I think I will continue to celebrate it for what it means to me. It’s a time to shoot a few birds; eat food straight from a grill; drink a little beer, and watch college football. That’s truly an American celebration and the perfect union!!!!! Happy Labor Day to all and enjoy the day for it means to you and your family. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Source: United States Department of Labor, www. dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm and Wikipedia.org – “Labor Day.”