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Another Labor Day is here

September 11, 2015
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

When I was younger the days seemed to last a lot longer. Going back to school was not thought about until the night before the first day of a new school year. Labor Day was a much bigger holiday then what it seems today.

On Labor Day, the world, as far as the United States was concerned, came to a screeching halt. All business were closed as well as government offices.

The day was full of games and picnics and watermelon were on everyone menu. My family ether spent the day at my grandparents house or there were block parties that were held from about noon tell the sun had long set.

From an article from the Labor department, Labor Day is described this way, "Labor Day is the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

Starting in the middle of the 1880s several states such as New York, Colorado and Massachusetts, passed legislation setting aside a date that would be celebrated for the workers of America. On June 28, 1894 Congresses passed a law making the first Monday of September Labor Day.

Oddly enough though the holiday is 121 years old no one knows for sure who exactly invented Labor Day. According to the article from the Labor Department it is thought that two people named Maguire were responsible for creating Labor Day

"Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic."

Still other records show that a Peter McGuire's was responsible for starting Labor Day The history of the holiday has not gone unchallenged and will probably remain a bone of contention for the next 100 years.

Early Labor Days in Washington were spent with parades and marching bands such as the creator of marching bands John Philip Sousa. The museums on the mall were all open and there was another large crowd at the zoo. Of course in Washington there was always a ball game at Griffith Stadium. On most occasions the President of the United States threw out the first ball. I have to say on a personal note that most of those games were won by the dreaded New York Yankees. One year, and I cant remember which year, Mickey Mantel hit the longest ball out of that old stadium.

Somehow Labor Day does not seem to be celebrated like it was in the past. I was reminded as I talked about this article that older people always believe that everything in the past was just a little better. I wonder in 50 or 60 years another old person who was young in 2015 will say the Labor Day celebration was celebrated a lot better then it is now. Only time will tell

 
 
 

 

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