Have a good Labor Day, America! Labor Day is meant to celebrate the contributions of the working class. The labor unions promoted it as a testament to the cause of worker’s rights. I don’t expect to see much on the origins of the holiday in America’s media this year.
In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”
The original parade in 1882 organized by the Knights of Labor had a loose affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, which was one of the reasons why the more progressive supporters of a labor parade preferred to join the rest of the world in celebrating it on May Day. The legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid serious labor unrest. President Grover Cleveland feared that the May 1 holiday would end up memorializing the Chicago Haymarket riots in early May of 1886. He moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day. It’s an interesting episode in American history.
We don’t talk about it much anymore. All of this is pretty much unknown/forgotten/not considered important to the majority of Americans, who celebrate Labor Day weekend as the last bit of summer before school starts – or at least they did until school started opening in August.
It’s a long weekend anyway, even if there’s not much to celebrate if you’re a worker in America.
Enjoy your day of rest.
Other news of the day:
Daredevil zoologist Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin has died in a tangle with a stingray. “He came on top of the stingray and the stingray’s barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart.” Freakish accident, to be impaled by a stingray. I liked the zany guy. His antics covered real love and knowledge, and I always enjoyed watching him introduce us to the other lifeforms of our planet.
Hamed Jumaa Al Saeedi, al Qaeda second in command behind Abu Ayyub al-Masri in Iraq, has been captured without recourse to bombs.
Poppies! Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep. – Wicked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz. It’s a banner year for the opium harvest in Afghanistan – the highest levels ever recorded, and almost 50% more than last year.
Anyone know why atheletes are being targeted in Iraq? Ghanim Ghudayer, a popular soccer player on Iraq’s Olypic team, has been kidnapped – just before he was going to leave the country.
The Education Department has admitted it shared the personal information of hundreds of student loan applicants with the FBI as part of a five-year program called Project Strikeback. Those are in-depth applications. Sigh.
Yesterday, six children were burnt to death in a Chicago apartment fire that was apparently caused by a candle used for light because there was no electricity. Fire officials say none of the homes and apartments of the 29 people who have died in Chicago fires this year had smoke detectors that worked.
And for the more trivial… In a bit of what looks like damage control, Tom Cruise has finally apologized to Brooke Shields for his nasty comments about her taking meds for post-partum depression. Could it be that he had a taste of what post-partum depression actually looks like? Or was this somehow connected to a coincidence of location (Brooke Shields and Katie Holmes gave birth down the hall from one another)? I didn’t have any problem with Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch – hey, when you’re in love, exhuberance is part of the package. It’s somehow very American, too, and I’m not sure why people seemed upset about it. His nasty remarks about Brooke Shields, however, were so mean – and so obviously streaming from his Scientologist fanaticism – that I was shocked. They should probably leave the PR to Travolta and others. Kudos to Brooke Shields, again, for the way she handled the whole thing. Nice that there’s an adult in the mix once in a while.
That’s it for me today. It’s beautiful outside, and while I’m not participating in any parade or protest, I am looking forward to spending the rest of the day with my family.