Labor Day in the Land of the Free

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How are you going to celebrate this year’s Labor Day? Why should we celebrate it?  It is during this time that we tip our hats off to the hard-working American workers as we honor and remember their achievements. How did we start celebrating it with parades, parties, and events? Let’s go back in history. It was also in trying times that the Labor Day celebration began. Back in the late 1800s, American workers had to forego weekends and 8-hour workdays. It was common to work for 12 hours, every day, with no days off. People needed to survive, aiming only for the basic necessities. Child labor was common then as children as young as 5 years old were tasked to work in mines, factories, and mills earning a paltry sum compared to their parents who also worked alongside them. Labor Unions began and later grew stronger as they started demanding more humane treatment, renegotiated work hours, and asked for higher pay. Finally, when the violence escalated and riots became common, the ordinary worker’s voice was being heard.  On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers sacrificed their pay and marched to Union Square in New York City from the City Hall demanding better treatment, benefits and thus began the first Labor Day parade in the history of the U.S. So, if you are now enjoying your weekend barbeque, lunch breaks, eight-hour workdays, paid leaves and social security, thank our forefathers who raised their arms and said “Enough!” Because we now enjoy the basic benefits of being a worker, we can now own homes even if it is mortgaged, drive our own cars and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  All of these things are now possible because of the battle fought many years ago. If our forefathers survived the hardship of the Industrial revolution, our generation can thrive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Every first Monday of September, let us celebrate the contributions of each American worker to the land of the free and the home of the brave!