Like a lot of things, Labor Day isn’t what it seems

For a great many of us in the Upper Peninsula and elsewhere in the U.S., today is a time to relax, to see friends and family and to fire up the barbecue.

For most of us, that’s what Labor Day has evolved into — the unofficial end to another long summer and the start of the school year.

And that’s not a bad thing, by any means.

The actual history of the holiday, however, is another matter. For example, not many people understand or know that the Labor Day holiday can trace its roots to the 1880s in New York City. According to some accounts, it was in 1882 that the Central Labor Union coordinated the first observance to mark the contribution of working people.

These were often challenging times for the working people of this country, when wages were low and many jobs had dangerous working conditions.

Later that decade, New York state, and several other states, codified the observance.

It was in the early 1900s that the holiday was observed nationally.

Labor’s contributions to Superiorland, indeed the entire Upper Peninsula and state of Michigan, are very easy to see. The mining industry is built on the strong shoulders of immigrant workers that formed the local labor pool. The Tilden and Eagle mines and the many related jobs still form the backbone of the local economy.

So, while you’re doing all that relaxing and kicking back today, take just a moment to think about where it all came from.