Happy Labor Day, MoB Readers! If your weekend weather was anything like the weather here, I hope you are spending today under blue skies, bright sunshine and low humidity. And of course you are all spending a good portion of today paying homage to the Pullman Strike of 1894 after which President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a national holiday. According to the source of all factual information – Wikipedia, Cleveland suggested this holiday only to appease the labor movement at the time. The bill was rushed through Congress and unanimously signed into law just six days after the strike ended.
This story, of which I was not aware until looking it up for this blog post, leaves me rather cold and uninspired to suggest we engage in anything more meaningful than what we were already doing today. For me, Labor Day means I can’t wear my white jeans anymore and the following day my kids will return to school and I will have some peace. If I’m lucky, Labor Day means some really good barbeque. Now, armed with the knowledge that the holiday was created at best haphazardly, I am even less likely to honor one group of laboring Americans over others who gave similar sacrifices over the years.
But now I’m wondering if Congress can rescind a national holiday. I mean if Pluto is all of a sudden no longer a planet, can Labor Day all of a sudden be no longer a holiday? Because, quite frankly, I think we have outgrown it.
I’m not suggesting that we give up a holiday around this time. We need a marker this time of the year, not just to go back to school but to shift gears and get back to business and productivity. And again, I start to think…
This past weekend was lovely on the east coast. If I could describe perfect weather, it would be a day like today. And on days like this, when there is not a cloud in the sky and the air is crisp but not yet cold, I immediately recall another perfect weather day: 9/11/2001. And I know I am not the only one who makes this connection. In my head, I will say to myself, it’s a 9/11 day. And I recall everything about that morning .. and afternoon.. and the weeks that followed. How flags started appearing on all the lawns, including my own. And how proud and sad and scared I felt all at once.
I propose that Congress get rid of Labor Day as gracefully and tactfully as they will never pull off possibly can and replace it with All Americans Day to be celebrated each and every 9/11. Because on that holiday, maybe we will barbeque and celebrate with family and finish our back-to- school errands, but we will all also stop and reflect on an event through which many of us lived and so many of us died.
And it will have meaning.