It is the unofficial end of summer and the holiday weekend we dedicate to the working man — or woman as the case may be.
We celebrate the idea of honest toil and the contribution the vast majority of working people make to the betterment of our society.
Of course not everyone fits the profile for this day. I know one guy who has devoted his entire life to avoiding any kind of labor and to a large degree has been successful.
Were it not for the inheritance from his father, a man who worked hard his entire life, the guy would be a complete bum.
But most of us have to work and we generally do so, even when we greet some mornings with less enthusiasm than others, with the idea what we do makes a difference.
The first parade in honor of the working folks was held in held in New York City in 1882. It is unknown how many people took off work to walk in the parade but score one for New York City anyway.
In 1887, Oregon of all places was the first state to recognize Labor Day as a holiday. The only reason one can come up for this is that in 1887 there were only about seven people working in Oregon so they figured it wouldn’t matter if a holiday was created for the working folks.
It was President Grover Cleveland who signed the bill in 1894 making Labor Day a legal holiday. While he should be applauded it should be noted ol’ Grover was a lawyer turned politician so how much real labor he ever did is speculative at best.
It should also be noted Cleveland used federal forces to break a railroad strike in Chicago because the strike had disrupted mail service. This seems excessive because the Post Office is fully capable of disrupting mail service with anyone helping.
We even have a Department of Labor, which shows no matter how honorable a goal sooner or later the guvmint will get involved.
It was in 1884 that the first version of a federal Department of Labor was created by Congress, but it underwent several incarnations until 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill creating an independent Department of Labor.
And since we have a Department of Labor, you must have a secretary of labor, which is a stretch because the secretary of labor doesn’t do half the honest labor of an ordinary secretary.
Labor Day has been commemorated in many ways.
Labor Day is also called Eight Hour Day, recognizing the fight by workers for a shorter work day than what most employers wanted to offer. Before this successful battle, many workers simply toiled until they passed out.
The Post Office issued a three-cent stamp in 1956 in celebration of labor. Should they wish to celebrate again, they could do so by putting a few more people working behind the counter at the local post office.
There are some people, however, who will find little reason to celebrate this weekend. Far too many people cannot enjoy this Labor Day because they have no labor to go to come the return of the work week.
This malaise that continues to drift over our economy will not be permanent, and we keep hearing how things are getting slowly better, but that is little comfort to those who are struggling to find a paycheck.
In the end we must believe — we have to believe — things will get better.
So go ahead and enjoy this end of summer ritual. Enjoy time with your family and friends, the cookout, car races and ball games. Appreciate what you have and what you have accomplished.
But take a moment to remember all those who are working through this holiday and those who have no work to go to.
And maybe come next Labor Day things will be better.
Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at Rlatarski@aol.com.