Labor Day History

Labor Day History

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It will soon be Labor Day and family and friends will be getting together at Smith Mountain Lake to celebrate the Holiday. For some of us, it might be the last big shindig of summer, and one we perhaps rarely consider the meaning of. Much of the younger population in particular have no idea of the roots behind this holiday. Learning to appreciate the value of hard work and honoring those who do so, is what Labor Day is all about.

As its name implies Labor Day was established to celebrate the hardworking folks from every nation and walk of life, who keep our great country functioning and productive. The idea was born when Irish immigrant, Peter Maguire decided to protest the 19th century working conditions.

Peter was just a child when he first began work in a piano factory. There he saw and experienced firsthand, the poor conditions which laborers were expected to work under. They were subjected to horribly long hours, very low pay, and dangerous working conditions.

On top of these sad working conditions, Peter and the other workers had no job security; no assurance that after working hard for a factory owner for years, that they might not lose their jobs on a whim and be out on the street. As he grew older Peter Maguire realized the wrongs in this system and in 1872 he and 100,000 other workers went on strike in protest. Afterward, he proceeded to travel about the whole country and help other workers and tradesmen organize themselves to achieve an 8-hour work day and better pay. Ten years later, the very first Labor Day Parade was held in New York City!

Then in 1894, the United States Congress made Labor Day an official holiday.

Your Labor Day will hopefully be filled with the warmth and enjoyment of loved ones this year. Don’t forget to be thankful for all the hard-working hands that have gone into making your world a good one.

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