ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- In its nearly 130 year history, Labor Day has seen many changes to the American workday. And while we may use it as an excuse to go to the lake or grab coffee with a friend, this all-important holiday began in a much less leisurely way.
“Labor day has always been kind of the last Hurrah of the summer,” said Engineer Kelsie Kennedy.
“Labor Day for me is an opportunity to just come together and just appreciate what we have,” Entrepreneur Gina Hall says.
“I was looking forward to it. I worked like 50 hours last week. I need this three day weekend, and I need to sleep,” said Physical Therapy student Mckenzie Garner.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was held in New York in 1882. Not a Federally recognized holiday – but a parade organized by unions and workers who took the day to gather and protest low wages, long hours, and child labor.
The holiday would not be signed into law until 1894, when President Grover Cleveland introduced the bill. This coming hot on the heels of the Pullman Railroad strike of that same year, which ended when the National Guard fired on the crowed, killing between 4 and 30 civilians. And, the Haymarket Affair of 1886, during which 7 officers and 8 civilians died in the struggle for a standardized 8 hour work week. All this according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
“I think any time that you have somebody standing up for the little guy the people that actually build our society. That’s awesome,” says Local artist David Reynaud.
Even today workers’ rights continue to be discussed and evolve.
“I think in the past year the discussion of work life balance has become a lot more prevalent,” Kennedy said.
“It just shows that this country is still growing and still needing to get better just standing up for what we think is right,” said Garner.
Making Labor Day a time to relax but also to reflect.
“It’s a way to give honor and respect and appreciation for people that are working for the betterment of our culture and society,” says Entrepreneur D. Grant Smith.