Summer#039;s last hurrah

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The last hurrah of the summer season is about to be upon us, the holiday known for over one hundred years as Labor Day.

Today we tend to connect it with bagging bargains, lazing around the pool and stuffing ourselves with burgers and beverages.

But there’s a lot more to summer’s last hurrah…

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Let’s go back to the America of the mid-nineteenth century, a country moving from agrarian roots to an industrial base.

Millions left farms and fields behind to move to the cities, in hopes of making their fortunes in the factories springing up left and right.

Many found they had traded in the difficulties of life on the farm for a new set of woes. They slaved over machinery six days a week for 12 and 14 hours at a time in dank, dingy and often dangerous surroundings.

Life was certainly no picnic for these human cogs in the machine of progress.

In 1872, a hard-working young fellow named Peter MacGuire joined over 100,000 other workers who banded together in New York City seeking better working conditions for the common man.

MacGuire, who had worked since age 11 to support his mother and six sisters during the Civil War, was so inspired by the event he went on to work for the improvement of life for the working men and women of the nation.

MacGuire and his friends came up with the idea of an official day honoring the working people.

They decided it should fall halfway in between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, September 5, 1882 the very first Labor Day parade was held in the streets of New York City.

Workers marched with banners demanding shorter workweeks and safer conditions, but there was also a lighter side to the day—picnics and fireworks were enjoyed by many.

The efforts of men and women like MacGuire led to a better life for many of us today.

We can give thanks for the 40-hour workweek, unemployment insurance, pensions and workmen’s compensation to these brave and tireless souls.

So celebrate summer’s last hurrah—and remember the working man who brought it to you.

This Thursday we will all have a chance to show our true colors and enjoy the Red, White and Blue Celebration in Confederate Park from 6-8 p.m.

A bicycle parade, contests, food and family fun are guaranteed for everyone!

Hope to see you there!

Many, many thanks to all those who have called, visited, e-mailed and sent cards in concern for my dad as he recovers from his stroke.

‘Papa Joe’ Killough celebrates his 82nd birthday on Sunday, September 1.

If you would like to send him a card, the address is 3403 Joe Killough Road, Honoraville, AL 36042.