Happy Labor Day and be happy that we can be happy

A Wikipedia article about Labor Day points out the paradox of how the holiday weekend is known for big-time sales yet most retail workers do not get time off and also work more hours.

Labor Day is traditionally known as the end of the summer yet if you live here in Southeast Texas you know that’s a lie. The end of summer is usually in early November. That is known as fall, or more precisely, the week here in this part of the country which is between summer and winter.

It is more the time of the year and the luck of the calendar that means Labor Day this year marks the beginning of “real” football. When I say real I mean not the NFL preseason games which don’t mean a thing except to the coaches and players. Likewise, I mean high school and college football. One’s preference as to which comes first guides the order. I still like high school football best and particularly my old high school’s team. Go Eagles! I hope to see at least one game this year. College, I’m not so jazzed about. Money has made the collegiate-level sport so that it isn’t about anything other than winning. I mean anything! It’s like the NFL, except the majority of college players are not yet as good as pros and the play is not nearly as interesting. That’s just a fan’s opinion, of course. Conferences are being re-formed where its schools might be clear across the country. What was wrong with the good ol’ Southwest Conference anyway?

Labor Day is also about cookouts, the beach, the lake, parades, concerts, all manner of entertainment and having fun.

Lost in all that Labor Day means in the United States is the true meaning of Labor Day. President Grover Cleveland gave labor unions the holiday as a political ploy. Cleveland hoped labor would develop amnesia when it came to his having dispatched nearly half the Army to battle striking railroad sleeping car workers. The Army response to the Pullman Palace Car Co. strike in Chicago was crafted by Cleveland, who said the stoppage interfered with mail delivery. Thirteen strikers were killed. Historian Kenneth C. Davis says in this CNN article that labor kept the holiday and Cleveland was fired by his party in the following primary election.

Rights for workers, humane working conditions, child labor laws all came about from unions but the successes were neither overnight, nor were they always bloodless. That is what Labor Day is really all about. That, plus the fact that the day and the weekend means no work so people can sun themselves, barbecue or go shop until they drop.

So enjoy the weekend. Celebrate! And raise a toast to all those who labored before you.

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