The Gift of Work
Introduction: For most, Labor Day is the official end of summer. The pools have closed. School has started. Soon the leaves will fall and not long after that the snow. But Labor Day started out with a much different meaning.
The Central Labor Union of New York City observed the first Labor Day holiday on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. It was a celebration of working people. Laboring men and women took the day off to march through the city streets in parades and then gather in parks for picnics. Two years later the holiday moved to the first Monday in September. The idea spread quickly to most other industrial cities in the nation. At first, city ordinances announced the holiday. New York and other states soon followed. In 1894, Congress made the day a legal holiday.
In 1956, the Post Office issued the first Labor Day commemorative-stamp. The image on the stamp symbolized the day. It pictured a large muscular man carrying a sledgehammer, a pick, a hoe, and an ax over his shoulder. His wife sat nearby showing a small child how to read. The words of the poet Carlyle in the lower left announced, ''Labor Is Life.''
Most of us may never have heard that motto ''Labor Is Life.'' Instead we heard our parents tell us when we complained about a chore we didn't like, ''You're not supposed to like it. That's why they call it work!'' ''Labor is drudgery'' sounds more like it to many of us.
Some of you graybeards can remember the old television series from the late fifties and early 60's, ''The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.'' Some of you have seen reruns on cable. Remember the teenager Dobie's good buddy Maynard G. Krebs. Actor Bob Denver played the part of Maynard. Most know Denver better for his later role as ''Gilligan.'' In Dobie Gillis, Gilligan played the part of a beatnik, a scruffy teenager, who didn't want to do anything but loaf. Anytime someone suggested that he find a job, Maynard would react. He woul ...
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