On Monday, September 3, millions of Americans will celebrate Labor Day. For most, it will mean nothing more than the unofficial end of summer, a weekend for one last barbeque, campout, or trip to the beach. However,according to the United States Department of Labor, the day represents, “a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country.”
For a holiday little more than a century old, Labor Day’s origins are surprisingly opaque. Some say that Peter McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to propose such a holiday. Other records indicate that it was another McGuire, named Matthew, who came up with the idea in 1882 when he was secretary of New York’s Central Labor Union. Whatever the truth, the first Labor Day celebration was held in New York City on September 5 of that year. By 1894, the United States Congress had passed legislation recognizing the first Monday in September as Labor Day.