By Dr. Laura Palmer Noone
CEO of University of the Potomac

It was one of those unexpected moments that you sometimes get with teenagers.  “Why do we celebrate Labor Day?” The voice from the back of the car seemed earnest enough, so I gave it my best shot, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough facts to satisfy the inquiring minds in the rear of the car. To be perfectly honest, I have probably forgotten most of what I knew of the history of Labor Day.  That being the case, I decided to do a bit of research.

According to the U S Department of Labor, the first Labor Day celebration happened in New York City in 1882.  The day was proposed by labor unions and trade organizations to celebrate the contributions of the membership.  Many states followed New York’s lead and by 1894, Congress had passed a law recognizing the first Monday in September as “Labor Day” for the District of Columbia and all the territories.

It is a bit ironic that we celebrate labor, by taking the day off.  But the importance of the American worker in the economic and civic development of our nation cannot be overstated.  While the holiday was initially focused on the activities of unions, it is obvious that its significance has broadened substantially over the years.

In these days of political wrangling over who creates jobs, we would all do well to remember that jobs require workers and that is what we celebrate each September.   So go grab another hotdog, eat a slice of apple pie and celebrate the hard working citizens of America.


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