The Labor Day holiday — which we celebrate Monday — means different things to different people.

For those of us who are employed, we might spend the day relaxing at home or taking part in other leisurely pursuits. Or you might be someone who is required to work on this holiday and are treating it like another day at the office.

Labor Day no longer means signals the end of summer for many students, as many school systems across the nation have adopted August as the start of classes.

Monday is the 128th anniversary of Labor Day, which always falls on the first Monday in September. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is “a creation of the labor movement and 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.”

The first Labor Day was commemorated in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882. As the years went by, more and more states followed the Big Apple’s lead. Some 12 years later, President Grover Cleveland on June 28, 1894, signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.

But what is Labor Day’s origin? There is some dispute.

According the Department of Labor, “Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.’ But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

No matter the founder, Labor Day has grown to become one of our most popular federal holidays. We hope you enjoy the day created to celebrate the American worker.

— Weatherford Democrat

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