Enjoy your day off, say thanks to those working on Labor day

Published 9:30pm Saturday, August 30, 2014

Like Memorial Day near the end of May, Labor Day, falling on the first Monday in September, is one of the unofficial bookends of summer.

Although fall won’t really arrive until the autumnal equinox – which comes three weeks later on Sept. 22 this year – Labor Day is traditionally seen as summer’s end by most of us.

The Monday holiday provides a three-day weekend that gives families an opportunity for one more warm-weather vacation trip before the nights, and then the days, start getting chilly.

Amid all the going and coming, it’s unlikely many will stop to think about why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. As its name implies, Labor Day was set aside to pay tribute to American working people and their contributions to our nation’s success.

Labor Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1894. Initially, the celebration was a move to placate unions and the labor movement in the United States; however, over time, that part of the holiday’s history has been largely forgotten except in the areas of the country with more union activity.

But the holiday continues to be a time to recognize our hard work and give most of us an extra day to rest from the work of making a living. Some among us will be on the job as usual, however. Among them are law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders and other medical workers, garbage collection crews and many retail workers.

In honor of the holiday, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued a statement late last week reminding the nation of the holiday’s real purpose.

“This Labor Day, let’s remember that hardworking men and women are the backbone of our country, and let’s redouble our efforts to uphold our nation’s great promise to them: that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it in America.”

So if you have Monday off, enjoy that opportunity. And say thank you to those that have to work anyway.

Happy Labor Day.