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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

A Great Time to Be Alive!

Dear Hearts,

Ah, Labor Day weekend!

A three or four day stint marking the close of summer where kids of days gone by could count on one last burst of freedom before school started (as opposed to today's young ones who typically start school in August and are currently staring at screens as their classroom) and many Americans actually do their best to get out of doing any labor. But it's a great time to be alive!

Yes, I said it.

But back to the three day weekend: Historically, we try to find time to squeeze in a barbeque with friends, one more pool party, or -- if we're lucky -- a short getaway. During a pandemic, however, we may simply spend yet another weekend at home in the back yard surrounded by the same handful of people with whom we've been quaranteaming the last six months. Even so, with the exception of perhaps pulling a few weeds in the garden, mowing the lawn, or doing light household chores, most of us will attempt to avoid as much work as possible if we're lucky enough not to have spend an obligatory eight hours at our jobs.

I find it somewhat humorous that this decreed time off came about because a carpenter back in the day by the name of Peter McGuire thought American workers should be celebrated by having their very own holiday. Some believe it was actually a machinist by the name of Matthew Maguire instead. Either way, in 1894, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day to take place the first Monday of every September.

What I did not realize is that whichever tradesman came up with the idea, it certainly wasn't some brainstorm derived by either one of them while flipping burgers poolside or floating down a river on an oversized inflatable pink flamingo. It turns out, since railroad mogul George Pullman laid off workers and reduced wages due to a recession, employees became even more angry and began to strike -- to which President Grover Cleveland sent federal troops to stop (Yikes!).

Illinois governor at the time, John Altgeid, demanded their withdrawal, but within the first day of the troops' arrival, mobs tipped over railroad cars and set them on fire (sound familiar?). All of this rioting and gunfire resulted in many deaths and a ton of property damage. The government restored order by the fall and, even though the idea of a holiday had already been proposed before this debacle (by the aforementioned Peter or Matthew), Labor Day was declared an official holiday to honor the American worker -- oddly enough, to appease the already troubled population.

Dear Hearts: Like you, I am perplexed as to why Americans have had to continually fight for fair treatment by employers. Simultaneously, although we thoroughly understand rage over ill treatment, it is also beyond disconcerting to handle mob mentality where property is demolished and people die. By now, one would think we would have learned our lesson as a country.

So, as we enjoy the unofficial close of summer, and take pleasure in what many of us are lucky enough to relish as a paid day off, perhaps business owners can devote a minute to thinking of ways to better treat employees, and workers consider how to be more effective communicators to bosses . . .anything to prevent abuse / violence.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you Dear Hearts have a tranquil weekend -- or at least, find some time over the next few days to relax, enjoy loved ones and, perhaps, a favorite activity. Lest I leave you downhearted, allow me to close with a quote that is a bit more uplifting than the origin of Labor Day: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you feel alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman Happy Labor Day, Dear Hearts!

It's a great time to be alive!

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