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As we head through September and look forward to the beginning of another fall, we should take a moment to reflect on an important event that has just passed by: Labor Day. Many people think of it nowadays as more of a marker for the end of summer, a last break before the children go off to school, the last summer vacations end and the leaves begin to change colors. To others, Labor Day is simply welcome time off. Labor Day does not mark a religious holiday, or the birthday of an influential leader. But the people this day is meant to honor are just as significant and extraordinary. Labor Day is a celebration of those working men and women who are the backbone of this country.

The holiday was first suggested in 1882 for the purpose of honoring the achievements that the laborers of this country had accomplished. On September 5, 1882, a huge parade organized by unions to mark the first celebration of Labor Day happened right here in New York. The idea quickly spread across the country to the millions of workers who were finally being told they deserved praise for the jobs they performed every day. In 1894, Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September an official national holiday, turning Labor Day from an uplifting workers' movement into an official holiday. In marked contrast, Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until 1863, more than 200 years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.

The astonishing and rapid success of Labor Day is a tribute to the efforts of all the people it commemorates. It is meant to give dignity and respect to the workers of our country, the people who strive every day to help their families and make our country a better place. Labor Day honors the overworked, underpaid and often unappreciated people whose sweat built this land. It is the holiday of ordinary people and the decidedly extraordinary things they have accomplished.

Today, many things have changed, from our technology to our culture to the way our economy runs. But the importance of our nation's hardworking men and women will never change. So while you are enjoying your day off, take a moment to think about what this day means and admire those for whom the holiday was created. There is a lot to thank them for.

Jon Kaiman

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