This coming weekend includes Labor Day, a day off for many, although not all, of us.
The weekend will be full with a big cross-country meet and the Hazel Miller concert at the Tabor Opera House
But Labor Day itself is free. It’s one of six holidays that the Herald Democrat staff gets, and one of just four that we on the editorial staff don’t have to actually show up to work. (The others are Christmas, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving.)
Labor Day as a federal holiday dates back to 1894.
It was started to honor the workers of the country, particularly those involved in unions. Colorado was one of the first states to establish Labor Day as a state holiday in 1887.
For Leadville, it’s a holiday without a parade. We catch up later in September with the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade. That’s good enough.
Labor Day became a national holiday when President Grover Cleveland, an anti-labor politician, signed the bill creating the holiday in order to make amends for his actions when he deployed 12,000 federal troops to stop a strike at the Pullman company in Chicago, and U. S. deputy marshals killed two men in the incident. Congress became concerned at the public backlash, and both houses passed legislation making the first Monday in September a national holiday honoring labor. Although Cleveland quickly signed the bill into law, he still lost his bid for re-election. That was back in the day when some politicians actually admitted and attempted to make amends for bad decisions.
The first Monday in September was selected because there were no conflicting holidays, and today it’s more a celebration of the end of summer.
No local community celebration is set for Labor Day this year. More than 100 years ago, it seems appropriate that the local Miners’ Union would celebrate the day with a huge picnic at the new Leadville Racing Association Park.
This year we’re having the Leadville Community Picnic on Sept. 6, so that might count as celebration enough.
The truth is that most working Americans deserve this Labor Day off. Especially in Leadville, following the summer tourist season when many here have exhausted themselves serving others in some way.
Samuel Gompers, American union leader during the last century, noted that “Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation.”
In a time when it seems we can’t agree on anything, this is a good holiday to have.