Labor Day is a holiday celebrated the first Monday in September with barbeques, parades, and activities. It is in honor of the labor movement and the achievements of the American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
“Only with the tools of production in their own hands could the workers ever hope to control their own lives and receive the fruits of their labor.” – Ella R. Bloor
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was originally a day to bring together union workers to recognize their common goals and interests.
Workers felt that they were spending too many hours and days on the job. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. Conditions were unsafe with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary environments, and breaks.
As a result labor unions grew more prominent and vocal. These conditions steered the focus for union organizers to concentrate on winning shorter eight hour work days, getting more days off, such as Labor Day, and reducing the workweek.
Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
During 1887 more states had begun to establish the Labor Day holiday as law. In June 1894 President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day bill into law making it a national holiday.
Today we celebrate Labor Day across the United States with barbecues, activities, parades and much more. Here are some events and activities in the DC Metro Area to help you and family celebrate the holiday. We all work hard and we deserve to play hard, enjoying the fruit of our labor!
5 Ways to Celebrate Labor Day
1. Visit the National Museum of American History
2. Catch a Game
3. Visit the National Harbor
Check Out These Links for More Fun, Activities and Events for Labor Day!