An Ode to Labor Day

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Customarily, Americans celebrate Labor Day – the first Monday of September – as the end of the summer. The last hoorah of another season in the sun come to an end. The burgers and hot dogs that come off the grill are savored like none other.

Football fans rejoice, with Labor Day marking the beginning of regular college and NFL football seasons. Sports bars dust off their stools, bust out the Bud Light flags and reinvent Monday Night Football happy-hour menus.

Back in the day, fashionable women of high society considered Labor Day the absolute last day on which one could wear white. In California, I see white worn pretty much all year long, so that Labor Day rule of thumb seems to be a bit iffy these days.

I recall as a kid Labor Day weekend was an exciting time in which we would hit the mall to chose our new school clothes, pick up supplies and select lunchboxes in preparation for the academic year ahead. It was like Christmas in September.

For many of us, Labor Day means the end of tourist traffic and an ability to enjoy the beaches sans the plethora of EZ-Ups and boom boxes. On Balboa Island, residents even throw a party commemorating “taking back the island.”

Post-Labor Day weekend, my thoughts begin to turn away from bathing suits and brats, and towards the coming fall of sweaters and soups.

Yet as we prepare to observe Labor Day 2011, many Americans are just grateful to have said labor to celebrate.

Most of the country is continuing to ride this wild and exhausting economic roller coaster of the past few years and are still feeling the effects. Ongoing budget cuts necessary for businesses to remain viable, or face closing their doors, continue, and there are still many who are unemployed, or underemployed.

So while many of us might observe Labor Day in part with a circumspect eye, the origin of the national holiday is an integral part of the fabric of our country, and shows how far we’ve come as a nation when it comes to our ever-changing workforce

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day was first celebrated in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, organized by the Central Labor Union as a “workingmen’s holiday.” With the growth of labor organizations throughout the country, starting in 1885, Labor Day was officially celebrated throughout most of the industrial centers of the country.

On the Labor Department’s official website, the meaning behind Labor Day is described thus: “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.”

Despite its challenges, as the U.S. economy and workforce continue to reinvent and remold, we remain resilient – and that is something to celebrate.


In next week’s Lynn’s Spin: The movie “Living It Forever,” produced by Newport Beach locals Ann and Rick Chatillon, has inspired an exhibit at Bloomingdale’s that will be featured during Fashion’s Night Out at Fashion Island on Sept. 8.

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