Labor Day

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Shea
  • 49th Maintenance Group commander

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But do you know why we have Labor Day? We look at it now as a mark of the end of the summer and time for school to start. Who really remembers how it started? Labor Day originated with the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor in 1882. They organized the first parade in New York City in May of 1886 to celebrate the social and economic achievements of workers.


Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, Congress unanimously rushed to approve legislation making Labor Day a national holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday:  A street parade to exhibit to the public the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations, followed by a festival for the workers and their families. (So now you know where the parades and picnics come from).  Thus, in an unfortunate turn of events, our military is indirectly tied to the establishment of this national holiday in September.


More directly though, is the right of our military to partake of, and enjoy this holiday each year, just as the civilian workforce enjoys it. We may not be members of unions, or work in factories, but we hold jobs that are more critical to the well being of our country, and our success is captured in the embodiment of the same esprit de corps and strength that the unions relied upon so long ago to bring about positive change to our country.


Our country has relied upon the sacrifice and production of the American labor force to overcome economic downturns. Much the same way, our military has, and continues to sacrifice every day to support and protect the way of life for America, and the basis of our foundation, the constitution. This job we do ensures the freedoms that are enjoyed by everyone, and allows our country to mature and develop without sacrificing the basis for its foundation. 


So we too, will enjoy Labor Day knowing that the military played a part in its establishment, as well as continuing to ensure the freedoms that everyone in our country enjoy. 


Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.

Napoleon Hill