What is the True Meaning of Labor Day?

By
Real Estate Agent with The Buyers' Counsel

Men workingTo most of us this weekend symbolizes the fact that summer is fading away and we are staring down the face of autumn.  

For some, it's a chance for one more drive to the Cape to catch a final beach day or to venture north, to Maine's coast before the chill sets in.  But, what is this holiday actually about? 

The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago.  It was born out of America's labor unions.  

"...the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."   -  Samuel Gompers, Head of the American Federation of Labor - 1898 

The first Labor Day occurred in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 when 20,000 people marched, demanding an eight-hour work day along with other reforms.  They paraded up Broadway, carrying signs which read, "Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation." 

The march was organized by the Central Labor Union of York by the Brotherhood of Carpenters and jointly backed by the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey. 

The idea began to spread to other cities and in 1884 the first Monday in September was chosen as the day to mark the holiday.    

Labor Day achieved its official status in 1894 in the wake of the Pullman Strike.  The unfortunate method used to break that strike was to send in 12,000 federal troops who opened fire resulting in the deaths of two of the workers and massive protests. 

In an attempt to heal the wounds between government and labor that year, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation designating Labor Day as a national holiday. The day was originally meant to be set aside in recognition of working people. 

A century after Samuel Gompers spoke his famous words this holiday has taken on different meanings to different people.   

It's the end of summer;

The beginning of school;

The return of football...

What does Labor Day mean to you?

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  Copyright 2009 - Claudette Millette, President, TheBuyersCounsel -  800-392-1446, E-mail    

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Ambassador
1,367,068
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I enjoyed reading the history behind Labor Day. As for me, it marks the end of Summer and I also hope that I get to put my feet up and relax with my family. I only wished there is a beach nearby. I really want to just sit on the beach.

I'm headed to work tomorrow morning but I'm calling it a day after showing 14 houses.

Sep 04, 2009 07:19 AM #4
Rainer
26,847
Amy Whiffen
RE/MAX Southern Shores - Myrtle Beach, SC
REALTOR - Myrtle Beach Real Estate

My kids just got off the bus and asked me this very question.  Thanks for making it easy!

Sep 04, 2009 07:20 AM #5
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Loreena:

There are no beaches in Frisco?  Thanks for reading.  Try not to work so hard and have a great weekend.

 

Sep 04, 2009 07:22 AM #6
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Amy:

I'm glad to be of service.  I hope your kids enjoy it.

Sep 04, 2009 07:23 AM #7
Rainer
47,276
Cassi @ Knightyme Video Tours
Knightyme Video Tours - Lawrenceville, GA

Very interesting. I was even reading about the Pullman strike. Thanks for the info!

Sep 04, 2009 10:40 AM #8
Ambassador
1,726,157
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Claudette...

Excellent facts, and no, it's time for football! I love the fall.

Sep 04, 2009 11:17 AM #9
Ambassador
1,367,068
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

The closest beach to Frisco is in Galveston close to Houston. That still means 5 hours away. While I love imagining a beach view through my toes, I seriously doubt I'd go to Galveston for that.

Sep 04, 2009 02:14 PM #10
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Knightyme:

Your welcome.  The facts about that strike are something I haven't thought about since school. I hadn't made the connection between it and the origins of Labor Day until I researched it again for the piece.  Thanks for your comment.

Richard:

I love the fall as well.  This is the time of the year when we in New England start to plan our "leaf peeping" getaway to look at the beautiful foliage in New Hampshire.  And, yes, football... As long as our Tom Brady stops injuring himself I think we have a good chance this year. 

Loreena:

I can't imagine having to go that far for a beach.  That's something I take for granted living on the coast.  "The beach through my toes" - I think you could write a song on that phrase.  'Very descriptive. 

Sep 05, 2009 12:13 AM #11
Ambassador
1,509,132
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

The return of FOOTBALL DEFINITELY!  High school, NFL, college, YAY!

Sep 05, 2009 03:58 AM #12
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Renee:

I take it that you like football...

So, do I.  Go, Patriots!

 

 

 

Sep 05, 2009 04:08 AM #13
Rainmaker
173,114
Cynthia Bartch
Home Stager/Property Stylist & more! Granville, Ohio - Granville, OH
Redesigned Spaces; All Round Nice Gal

You know Claudette, all this this time I had no inkling of what Labor Day meant, thanks for the education this morning. All I remember is when I worked in the retail industry it meant working long hours, how ironic ;)

Sep 06, 2009 01:37 AM #14
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Cynthia:

Yes, I know what you mean.  I worked in the retail industry years ago and it meant long hours and weekends  - Just like real estate, but not as rewarding :)

 

 

Sep 06, 2009 04:52 AM #15
Rainmaker
173,114
Cynthia Bartch
Home Stager/Property Stylist & more! Granville, Ohio - Granville, OH
Redesigned Spaces; All Round Nice Gal

Morning Claudette, IMO this should have been a featured blog today, I flagged it and hopefully your great post will get the audience it deserves!

Sep 07, 2009 01:22 AM #16
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Cynthia:

Thank you so much - for reading it and flagging it.  And, I am glad you enjoyed it.

 

Sep 07, 2009 02:49 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,477,933
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I was reminded a bit of the history of the holiday on the radio this morning...

I am the grandaughter of a Teamster (mother's side my Grandpa drove a beer truck in Chicago, Pabst Blue Ribbon)  and my father was probably a union member most of his adult life as a diesel mechanic.  He was employed by the union as an instructor at the end of his working days.  I probably grew up knowing more about what Labor Day is than most folks.    

I have always thought it was a sad weekend growing up.  Back to school, end of summer.  I'm playing Black Eyed Peas "Labor Days (It's a holiday)"

"The sleep of a laborer is sweet"  Ecclesiastes

Sep 07, 2009 03:42 AM #18
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Maureen:

That was fabulous.  A Labor Day post within a post. I love the story.  And, that sentiment about the end of summer and not wanting to go back to school is probably universally felt.  

I had never heard of "Black Eyed Peas."   I just watched a You Tube video of them performing the song you mentioned.  I'm not a rap fan, but, what energy.  Their dancing is a fitting tribute to the day. 

 

Sep 07, 2009 04:11 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,477,933
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I am not a rap fan or a hip hop fan and I think that is hip hop not rap (but maybe it is rap... what do I know?  I don't like opera either for the record. ) One of my friends who is just a couple of years younger than me who has very, very varied taste introduced me to the "Black Eyed Peas" some of their lyrics are interesting...

Happy Labor Day Claudette, I hope we in Central Ohio are the only ones having rain today!!  I believe I heard on the news this AM sharks in the water off MA?  Big sharks. Beaches closed.

Sep 07, 2009 04:29 AM #20
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Maureen:

You are right.  Wikipedia has Black Eyed Peas as a hip hop/pop group.  'Glad to clear that up. 

There were two great white sharks spotted in Chatham, MA on Cape Cod this weekend and the beaches there are closed, but that is about an hour from where I am. 

 

Sep 07, 2009 05:53 AM #21
Rainmaker
3,251,352
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Thanks for the history lesson...like many realtors...we were laboring on labor day...and it is a labor of love !

Sep 08, 2009 12:22 AM #22
Rainmaker
403,659
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Hi, Sally & David:

I'm glad you enjoyed the history lesson.

It's good to hear that you love what you are doing.  I am sure it makes you all the better at it. 

Sep 08, 2009 09:47 AM #23
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