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To celebrate all the hard work put in by Americans for hundreds of years, many citizens will take a day off Monday, Sept. 3, as we do every year in celebration of Labor Day.

While it might seem odd to celebrate working by not, it allows us to slow down for a day and remember everything accomplished by the long hours, endless days and years put in by American workers to create the world we live in today.

Sedona Red Rock News Managing Editor Trista Steers MacVittieEach year, I join the millions of others who spend the day relaxing with friends and family, and I never really took the time to understand why I was excused from my duties on the first Monday of September. A day off is a day off, and I’m not one to argue with free time. However, I decided it was time to better understand the roots of a free September Monday.

While many Americans already know why we celebrate Labor Day, I figured I’m likely not the only person out there who doesn’t know all the details.

The Central Labor Union celebrated the first Labor Day on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. The group held a second Labor Day celebration the next year, again on Sept. 5.

Who, in fact, envisioned a day off to celebrate the labor force isn’t clear. Two men are credited with birthing the idea — Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, and Matthew Maguire, a machinist.

In 1884, the Central Labor Union designated first Monday of September as Labor Day and urged other such groups in the city to also celebrate. By 1885, other cities reliant on industry also saw celebrations.

Oregon passed the first law Feb. 21, 1887, designating Labor Day a state holiday beating New York to the punch, although legislation had already been introduced in the eastern state. New York, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey also passed similar legislation later that year.

On June 28, 1894, the U.S. Congress enacted a bill making Labor Day a legal holiday.

Celebrations of Labor Day started as community and family coming together to enjoy the fruits of their labor and some of those same traditions remain.

However you spend Sept. 3, remember to think about the hard work you and all the Americans who’ve come before you have put into creating the world we live in today.


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