Why do we celebrate Labor Day? In 1894 workers in the company town of Pullman, Illinois went on strike. In Pullman, everyone worked for the Pullman Railway Car Company.
A national depression in 1893 forced Pullman to layoff hundreds of workers and reduce wages for those remaining, but living costs remained the same, and were deducted off the tops of their checks. Oh that sounds fun. The workers went on strike and were joined by the American Railway Union. National transportation and mail deliveries came to a standstill, and riots broke out. President Cleveland called out 12,000 troops to suppress the chaos and declared the strike illegal. In the chaos that ensued, two men were killed by Deputy Marshals in Kensington, Illinois before the strike was finally over. Shocked by the violence, people created an anti-Cleveland demonstration (boy this sounds familiar).
Congress stepped in to quickly pass an act making the first Monday in September a national holiday, Labor Day. This day was to celebrate American workers; their productivity and contributions to society and the economy.
If you are wondering what to celebrate over that ice cold beverage and awesome barbecue this Monday, here’s an idea…because of this and other early labor strikes, you and I got to go to school as children and play during summer months. (Remember that when your neighbor’s children wake you from your nap by shrieking while running through the sprinklers!) That’s still not a luxury for children in some parts of the world.
Many of you reading are entrepreneurs running your own businesses. That’s an amazing thing to celebrate! But if you aren’t working for yourself, thanks for what you do to make the world a better place.
Whatever you end up doing this Labor Day, celebrate that you are unique. You and only you bring your perspective, value, talent, skill and humor to the world. You are free to make your own choices and decide where to put your energy and enthusiasm to your piece of the world. If you choose to call it labor, remember it’s a labor of love. If you or someone you know are feeling a lack of freedom and want to shift what you are doing, go Draw Your Future, and catapult yourself into the “labor” that’s right for you.
Special thanks to those who went before us and paved the way to our freedom! Have a Happy Labor Day!