Tag Archives: September

Observing Labor Day

labor day

Labor Day is observed on the first Monday of September and has become known in the United States as the unofficially “official” end of summer. It’s a time that brings travelers home from summer vacations and to get the kids ready for another year in school.

The tradition to set one day aside each year to honor the state of labor and industry was first observed back in the late 1880’s. The idea was actually generated by a man named Peter McGuire, a president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, in 1882. He felt that labor workers should have day in which everyone who benefited from such workers could recognize the strength and unity of labor and trade organizations. He also suggested a parade and picnics to follow such an observance. Why did he choose September 5th to honor the day? Simply because it fell about halfway between Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, and Thanksgiving Day, celebrated during the later part of November.

The Central Labor Union adopted McGuire’s idea, and the first day Labor Day was first celebrated on September 5, 1882. New York City came alive with parades and speeches by various labor party and union members throughout the city. During the next couple of years, the idea of celebrating a Labor Day caught on in other states, and by 1894, the day had been made a legal holiday in thirty of them. Today, the holiday is celebrated and observed by every state in the Union. While many celebrate Labor Day as the last day of summer festivities, many keep the traditions of Labor Day alive by recognizing the efforts of laborers throughout the country. It’s a day during which attention can be drawn to the issue of worker’s rights and benefits, as well as improving the status of laborers everywhere throughout the world.

In 1954, an editorial in the Los Angeles Times stated, “Labor Day has become an integral part of the American way of life. It reflects a degree of optimism and mutual confidence on the part of all segments of society that few countries can equal.” The rights of workers and the decent payment of wages sets America apart from many other industrialized nations throughout the globe. Child labor laws in America prevent children from being trapped in lives of labor, denied a school education or other rights. Over the decades, American workers have fought for, and won, the right to equal pay for equal work, among both men and women employees.

While over the years, Labor Day has not only grown from an official day away from work, it’s celebrated as a day of family get-togethers, of trips to the beach and picnics in parks, where everyone, male or female can enjoy a day off work if they so choose.

New York City sees the largest parades and ceremonies, as hundreds of thousands of labor union employees and officials continue the legacy of Peter McGuire. The honor and respect paid to workers, no matter what their jobs, began as such a tiny seed in the mind of McGuire so many years ago. Now, not only hand laborers and carpenters enjoy the benefits of his dream, but also bankers, schoolteachers and craftsmen throughout America are able to recognize and reflect on the benefits of labor in our country. Worker’s rights and movements have made great strides in continuing American traditions of fair and decent living wages, and while Americans often complain that minimum wages aren’t enough to keep up with rising inflation and living costs, workers in America are protected against child labor, discrimination and unfair, cruel or even forced labor practices. For that, Americans need to spend a moment on Labor Day to remember and honor the efforts of Peter McGuire over a century ago as they enjoy a day free of work.

How to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

hispanic heritage month

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Every September and October, Hispanics across the United States celebrate, honor and remember their rich heritage, no matter which state they live in. Originally begun in 1968, National Hispanic week eventually grew to incorporate a 30-day period of time in which contributions and advancements created and instituted by Americans with Hispanic roots are celebrated.

The month is a time when school children across the country receive an in-depth look at the culture and history of Mexico and South America, as well as early American settlers who hailed from Mexico. Traditions, foods, celebrations and profiles of famous Mexican-Americans are explored and honored. In cities around the United States with a heavy Hispanic population, huge festivities are often enjoyed by thousands of Americans, no matter what their ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Dances, parades, special events and gatherings are held throughout communities in order to reflect and remember the contributions of Hispanics throughout the history of the United States.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is also a time when immigration and educational issues are addressed, as well as actions that assure that everyone who enters America legally be offered adequate resources for information regarding citizenship and all its benefits. The observance of Hispanic Heritage Month is relegated mainly to school districts, and children of all ages often celebrate the time with events that display the cultural traditions of Hispanic peoples. Traditional clothing and foods are often explored and enjoyed, as well as the music and language of Spanish speaking people. Many classrooms invite local Hispanic restaurant personnel into their classrooms to prepare traditional cooking lessons and ‘taste-feasts’ for children in elementary and middle school levels, and High Schools often celebrate with in-depth lesson plans and scheduled event speakers who come to their schools to discuss everything from traditional clothing to the increasing contributions of Hispanics in American society.

The observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month officially begins on September 15th and ends on October 15th of every year. Educational events and issues of education are often in the forefront of current events during this one-month period of time, when bilingual education and services are often the focal point of seminars, conferences and community meetings around the country.

School districts around the country typically set aside this period of time to focus on the contributions of Hispanic Americans and those from Latin American countries who have furthered science, art and political causes in America and in their native countries. In cities with large Hispanic populations, millions gather to honor the memories or contributions of Hispanic men and women who have fought for equal rights, equal pay, and for political change within America. States like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, who have large populations of Hispanics, often host sister-city exchange programs that encourage good relations both north and south of the border between high-school age children.

City streets are often decorated with piñatas and the smell of tamales, enchiladas and chili often wafts on afternoon breezes. The sound of lively Hispanic music fills the air, as do the sounds of celebration and laughter. Many cities host large, public dances and events that bring many different races and cultures together, which strengthens communities and fosters good relations between all.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important time for all Americans to remember that this country has a history of and continues to be the greatest ‘melting pot’ in the world. This period is celebrated in every state in America, as the cultures and contributions of the Hispanic community have always been, and will always be, a constant in the fabric of American life.