When Peter McGuire was just 17, he became a piano tuner’s apprentice. Although one of the more coveted jobs of the day – it was a trade, and not dangerous – he endured very long hours and very low pay. After work he took economics classes, and met with other citizen to discuss social issues, most notably working conditions for laborers. Tired of unfair practices, workers dreamed of creating labor unions to improve their working conditions. And in the spring of 1872, Peter McGuire and 100,000 laborers went on strike, demanding shorter days and better pay.
This event is the humble beginning of what we now know as Labor Day. It would be a decade before the first Labor Day parade and fireworks display would be staged in New York City, as tens of thousands of people marched through the streets. In 1894, Congress voted Labor Day a federal holiday to commemorate the efforts of these pioneers of the labor movement, as well as to celebrate American workers everywhere who contribute to the economic success of our country.
These days, however much of that history is unknown. Labor Day marks the end of summer, and as such is a thriving holiday weekend that packs the beaches and resort areas with people looking to relax and enjoy one last summer party. If you are planning to celebrate with a picnic or barbecue, you may want to consider decorating your tables with a patriotic floral display. Not only will it brighten up your gathering, but it will be a poignant reminder of the legacy of the day.
Billy Heroman’s of Baton Rouge joins with you in celebrating the history of hard work in America, and we salute workers everywhere. Picnic or garden party, fireworks or beach – enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!