Tag Archives: Labor Day

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.

What is Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day

Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day

Millions of Americans enjoy the country’s National Park System every year, but do you realize how much trash thoughtless people leave behind? Perhaps they’ve never heard the scouting motto, ‘Leave a place cleaner than you found it’, but for whatever reasons, people litter national and sacred lands with food trash, cans, forgotten pieces of clothing, and worst of all, diapers!

A man named Carl Garner, living in Arkansas, was well known in his community for encouraging young and old alike to help keep his native Greers Ferry Lake and surrounding Little Red River clean of trash and pollutants. He became aware of how important it was to be environment friendly after he helped construct Greers Ferry back in the early 1960’s. He became an environmentalist who cared deeply about human impact on natural environments, even when being so dedicated wasn’t at all popular. He began a project called the Greers Ferry/Little Red River Cleanup, and ever since, the project has grown to become a shining example for such volunteer projects throughout the United States. Garner’s project became the model for what was to be later known as the National Public Lands Cleanup Day that was created at local, State and Federal levels some years later. This national project was created to address the growing and alarming rates of pollution, not only from vehicle emissions, but that caused by human contact with National Parks and lands throughout the United States.

Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day is observed on the first Saturday after Labor Day, and countless thousands of citizens from every state contribute hours of their day to not only clean up local public parks and lands, but also attend ceremonies and activities that are created and designed to draw attention to the fact that the land belongs to all Americans, and as such, we have a responsibility to keep it clean and as environmentally natural as possible. Created in 1985 by the Federal Lands Cleanup Act, this day used to also be known as ‘Federal Lands Cleanup Day, though it was renamed in 1985 in honor of Carl Garner’s work in Arkansas.

Nearly every citizen in the United States enjoys trips and hikes through our National Park system, to enjoy the benefits nature offers us. The National Park system attempts to ensure that every park within their domain, including memorial parks and battlefield locations, are well cared for, but their lack in budget and manpower often makes that an impractical dream. Visitors to any National Park can do their part to help Park Rangers by cleaning up after themselves and refraining from littering while they are on Federal lands. Local and state parks are even more understaffed than the National Parks and require a greater diligence from locals than ever before.

Most people know how to respect federal lands, and are conscientious and careful about cleaning up after themselves, but many people just don’t seem to realize what they’re leaving behind, and if they do, they don’t care. The shame of it is, everyone suffers from such lack of respect and concern, and our national parks take the brunt of the neglect. National Parks and lands are created to protect against overbuilding, deforestation and over population, but they’re not protected from careless people who don’t care where that McDonald’s cup or bag end up. Helping to protect our natural parks, and the wildlife within them, from the thoughtlessness of some has become a regular endeavor for many schools around the country, with classrooms taking fieldtrips to local parks every year to do their part in helping keep America clean. Many Girl and Boy Scout Troops make an effort to join in on Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day every year, and are proud to participate in such a beneficial event.

Keeping America clean is a responsibility that belongs to every American, regardless of age, race and social status. Carl Garner believed that, and so do hundreds of thousands of people who follow his example every year, on the first Saturday after Labor Day.