The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 1, 2013

Salute!

Labor Day a tribute to workers’ contribution to the strength, prosperity, well-being of the U.S.


— Where has summer gone? Did we even have one? It doesn’t seem like it. But anyway, here it is — Labor Day weekend.

This truly American holiday is traditionally thought of as the end of summer, although the calendar says fall is still about three weeks away. But with the kids back in school (now they had hardly any summer!), leaves already turning on the trees (we’ve seen one maple that’s had orange leaves for a couple of weeks —what’s up with that?) and football players are back on the gridiron (did the Mountaineers scare you?), we guess the Mother Nature is really ready to make the change.

When you were a child, did it seem incongruous to you that the holiday is called Labor Day, but no one worked that day?

Well, for the record, here is what the U.S. Department of Labor’s website has to say about it.

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

Oregon was the first to make Labor Day a recognized state holiday in 1887. And in June 1894, Congress passed an act acknowledging it as a legal holiday nationwide.

For years, Labor Day was celebrated with parades and festivals for workers and their families, the DOL site says. Speechifying was added later.

Today, labor organizations still hold rallies; some towns hold festivals.

Many people simply celebrate with a picnic or barbecue with close family or a huge reunion with their extended relations.

However you plan to spend your Labor Day weekend, please make sure you do it in a healthy and safe manner.

Have a couple of beers, but also have a designated driver. Stay off the road and the water if you have been drinking. Keep the Alka-Seltzer ready if you have too many hot dogs.

And praise this land we call home. No matter the season, the United States of America is simply the best.