Why We Love Labor Day, or, Thank You, Grover Cleveland!

Beach umbrella Labor Day Vacation
Spend Labor Day at the beach {link url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinkerroll21/2682334357/}(photo courtesy of downing.amanda){/link}

Ask any American what Labor Day is all about, and you might get a blank stare, a response like “it’s the end of the summer,” “kids go back to school,” or, if you’re lucky enough to come across a die-hard American football fan, “it’s the beginning of the NFL season, baby!” Some–a very few–may have an idea that it has something to do with labor unions, but they won’t be able to tell you much more than that.

Many don’t know that the holiday was created, rather reluctantly, in 1894, by President Grover Cleveland. Never a big fan of the unions, Cleveland ordered the U.S. military to attack railway workers at the Pullman plant in Illinois when they went on strike about pay decreases earlier that year. After 34 men died, and a national outcry from other union workers, Cleveland created the holiday to prevent riots. The legislation was rushed through Congress and unanimously approved 6 days later.

President Grover Cleveland
President Grover Cleveland Created Labor Day

Of course, the day was meant to celebrate the achievements of the labor movement, what Cleveland and Congress called “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” with parades, speeches, and special festivals for labor union members and their families. But now, with the decline of labor union membership in much of the Western world (in the U.S. it is now about 12% of the population, although it was once as high as 40%), the meaning of the day has been diluted down to one idea: relax. You work enough. Today, you don’t have to.

And that’s why we here at TakeTours love Labor Day so much. Is there any other holiday that has so few expectations? Is there any other holiday that says “you deserve a vacation” in quite the same way? So treat yourself this Labor Day Weekend. It’s not too late to book one of our many Labor Day Tour and Vacation Deals. Just don’t forget, wherever you may be–sipping something cold on the beach in Hawaii, careening down the steep hill of a rollercoaster at Disneyland, or hiking through Yellowstone Park–to say “Thank you, Grover Cleveland.”