Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
As the Industrial Revolution took hold of the nation, the average American in the late 1800s worked 12-hour days, seven days a week in order to make a basic living. On Tuesday September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from city hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first-ever Labor Day parade. Twelve years later in 1894, Congress declared that the first Monday in September would be the holiday for workers, known as Labor Day.
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership - the American worker.
“Each Labor Day, we pause as a Nation to honor some of the greatest heroes of the American story. We salute working people because they have built our land with skill, energy, and resourcefulness, transforming raw materials into a shining edifice of freedom and prosperity.
“On Labor Day we recognize these achievements and reflect on the meaning and dignity of work and on the values it protects and strengthens -- the values we as a Nation hold most dear.
“America's workers continue to display the spirit, ingenuity, and adaptability to new conditions that labor and employers alike need if our economy is to continue to grow. This willingness to meet every challenge speaks volumes about the health and vitality of our way of life. Let us always remember that so much of what we are, we owe to working men and women.”
- President Ronald Reagan (in his 94th Labor Day message)