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Angelina Hunter | NorthFortyNews.com
Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday of September, is as ubiquitous as the 4th of July as we have all grown up with this holiday.
Celebrated with parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks displays, for most of us, it means the end of summer. And for families with young children, it signals a return to school.
But the driving force behind establishing Labor Day as a national holiday was a tribute to American workers dating back to an especially dark period in American history.
In the late 1800’s during the Industrial Revolution in the United States, to eke out a meager living, the average American worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day. And while some states placed restrictions on child labor, in other states children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories, mills, and mines, exposed to fetid air and unsafe working conditions while earning a pittance of their adult counterparts.
Labor unions sprang up and organized strikes to compel employers to renegotiate hours, pay, and safer working conditions. But these strikes often resulted in violence and loss of life. And at times, the National Guard was mobilized to protect the rights of employers and quell these protests.
In such conditions of massive unrest, in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
But with all the key people of the Labor Movement who risked their lives to fight for better working conditions for the American worker, credit for establishing Labor Day as a national holiday must be attributed to a “host of heroes.”