A Day To Think About Others
Monday is Labor Day, and under more normal conditions, we’d all be excited about a long weekend we could share with family friends, picnic, watch parades, visit the beach and simply celebrate the auspicious holiday dedicated to all of us working Americans.
Unfortunately, this Labor Day is anything but normal. Beaches and parks are closed, events and parades cancelled, and social distancing is severely limiting our ability to gather with friends and family. Those universities and colleges that have reopened for classes are seeing significant spikes in virus positivity rates. At Indiana University where I attended both undergraduate and graduate school (and was inter-fraternity council president), there is a positivity rate as high as 87% in the school’s fraternities and sororities.
But what’s even more troubling as we approach Labor Day 2020 is the number of people who are currently unemployed, worrying about how to make ends meet and keep food on the table. The pandemic has almost tripled our unemployment rate here in the US, and while the economy added back some 1.4 million jobs in August, my concern, and that of many economists, is that many of the jobs pre-pandemic simply won’t come back as so many small businesses have been forced to close for good and other medium and larger businesses are now planning to operate with fewer employees in general.
The history of Labor Day was forged under very difficult conditions here in the US. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning just a fraction of adult wages. In short, it was a brutal way to earn a living.
In response, American Workers began to organize and protest against the inhumane conditions. Many of these events turned violent and people died. People starting clamoring for a “workingman’s holiday” and several states passed legislation to enshrine it. But it wasn’t until 1894 and the hullabaloo over the Pullman Railroad Company firing of Union Representatives and the following violence and boycott that ensued, that Congress finally took notice. Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. To this day, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.
More than 125 years after President Grover Cleveland signed into law the act of Congress making Labor Day a National Holiday commemorating the celebration of American workers and their achievements, let us be mindful that this Labor Day is truly different. Americans have always been able to forge remarkable, history-altering moments when faced with incredible obstacles and difficulties. We can hope and pray that this time, our time in this crisis and pandemic, will be no different.
So as we celebrate this Labor Day, albeit quieter and more sedately than those in the past, let us remember our fellow Americans who are facing illness and unemployment, and do whatever we can as fellow citizens to assist.
From all of us at Imbue Botanicals, we wish you all Happy Labor Day, and thank you for your ongoing support. It means the world to us.
With all our best,