On Monday, Sept. 6, the United States will celebrate Labor Day, a holiday honoring the service of workers throughout history. It’s a time for many of us to take a break, enjoy a long weekend and be thankful for family, friends and other loved ones. It is also a time for us to reflect on the importance of the hardworking Americans who, through grit and determination, keep this country running day after day.
Labor Day arose during a tumultuous period in our country’s history. In the late 19th century, the United States was at the height of the Industrial Revolution. New technologies, such as the steam engine and power loom, made it easier to mass produce goods like iron appliances and domestic textiles. It became more efficient to travel across long distances, and what was once a largely agrarian society began to slowly shift toward an increasingly commercial marketplace.
Along with the good came a bit of the bad. New machinery resulted in the creation of large factories full of people struggling under inhumane hours. For a while, child labor was rampant. Workers advocated for more pay and better conditions. After years of effort, they succeeded.
The first recorded celebration of Labor Day was on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. Gradually, several other cities, and then several other states, began to institute their own labor holidays. Soon, Congress started to take notice. Realizing there was a national desire for a federal version of Labor Day, Congress passed an 1884 law declaring the first Monday in September of each year a nationally-recognized holiday — a tradition that remains to this day.
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