Why We Celebrate Labor Day
September 3, 2010
Here it is — Labor Day weekend.
What does it actually mean? Why is the first Monday in September a national holiday that was established in 1882?
What are we celebrating? Why Labor Day? Why not managers’ day? Why not executives’ day?
First of all, like so many of our traditional holidays, the original meaning and inspiration has been lost. In the case of Labor Day, who labors in America anymore?
Many years ago, Labor Day was noted for patriotic parades and long winded speeches extolling the contribution to America made by the working man. Back then, we didn’t have to include the clumsy phrase ’working woman.’
Women may have worked harder than ever in those days — raising children, cleaning house, and having to do all those never-ending chores without all the labor saving gadgets and appliances we have today.
People today don’t realize what a difference life was like when Labor Day became a legal holiday in the early 20th century. It was a different country in virtually every way imaginable.
The most important social event in many family’s lives was going to church on Sunday morning and perhaps having some family members and friends over for dinner. That was about it as far as socializing.
Folks retired to bed early because dad had to get up early to work in the factory or plant or wherever he put in long hours of backbreaking work . . . usually six days a week. Many men had to work ten hours a day and the pay was just about enough to make ends meet until the next payday.
Working conditions were hard and often unforgiving. If a guy didn’t like his job then he could quit. If he didn’t work hard and do his “piece work,” he would be fired.
So there was time in America when the working man, the laborer, had a pretty rough time. On his own, he did not have any bargaining power. But, when Samuel Gompers and John L. Lewis and others came along and started the union movement, things began to change.
There is no doubt that well over 100 years ago the need for unionizing workers was at hand. The progress the working man has made, thanks to the unions, has been phenomenal.
But, like so many things in life there comes a time when the abuse of power destroys the system and in the long run everyone is hurt.
A classic example of what I mean is the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW). That union has done severe damage to the auto industry by demanding and getting obscene pay increases, pensions, and health plans which really crippled General Motors, for example.
Americans don’t seem to care about our traditions and they don’t seem to want to know the significance of our traditional holidays.
So, without delivering a sermon which I have been want to do, let me say enjoy your barbecue, enjoy your holiday, and if you want to toast anybody on this Labor Day, why don’t you salute those hardworking, God fearing patriotic flag saluting Americans of yesteryear, and know if it weren’t for them we would not have what we have today.
And salute them with hope, even though we are under assault by the very president who was elected in 2008 to do good, but is doing what he set out to do . . . destroy our capitalist system and replace it with socialism.
May God save us and the GOP recapture the Congress this November!