What the hell is Labor Day, anyway, other than one of 10 annual U.S. bank and postal holidays—and an excuse for kids to get out of school after barely returning? Observed on the first Monday of each September, it was founded in 1882 and became a federal observance two years later to promote the achievements of American workers toward the “strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”
The celebration took on the form of nationwide parades and picnics (the first, in 1882, pictured above in NY's Union Square) to demonstrate "the will of trade and labor organizations.” Blustery political speeches were included, before it softened into more of an economic and civil jubilation by 1910.
More so, Labor Day is regarded as the end of summer—and for heaven's sake, the last day of the year for decent Yanks to be seen in public wearing white.
But I wonder what there is to celebrate this Labor Day 2010, as the nation remains awash in an endless recession, with the latest uptick to 9.6% national unemployment. For many of us, it's like Valentine's Day when you have no lover—almost a slap in the face, and at best, just another self-defeating day to comb the job listings, as we did the preceding Monday. I wonder whatever happened to the "strength, prosperity and well-being of our country," and if we will see it en masse again. Labor Day... I wish.