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Labor Day Thoughts circa 2014

by vaughn skow September 01, 2014 4 min read

Hi fellow guitar tone geeks, great to be with you all on yet another LABOR DAY weekend!

I’ve been fighting a bit of a cold this weekend, and I feel soooo blessed!  Say that doesn’t make sense, well, let me explain!  You see, when I get sick, I get to be sick in a nice snug home with heat and air-conditioning, and running hot cold water, and plenty of readily available food (with pop-tarts and chicken noodle soup as highlights), plus I have a nice comfy bed with big fluffy pillows … like I said, I’m blessed; and grateful.  Even on my most miserable days, I’ve got it good.  Very good, indeed.

On this holiday, I just hope that all of you can say the same.  I don’t know exactly why I was so fortunate to have been born in such a great country with such freedom and opportunity. I don’t know why I have been able to grow up in a time and place where no wars have been fought.  I don’t know why I’ve been granted such an awesome life; but I do know this: I will not take it for granted; I will not complain when I run out of hot water or when I get a little cold.  I will remain forever grateful for the life of freedom and relative prosperity I have been gifted with.

Labor?  Yea, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work, too.  I love working; love actually making or accomplishing something.  I’m so grateful that I’m in America where I was born a farm kid … but had the freedom to pursue my dreams in music.  I’m so glad for both the opportunities I have had to do hard manual labor … and also for the opportunities I’ve had to be creative, and to use my mind rather than my biceps to produce something tangible. 

How about all y’all out there?  Are ya feeling what I’m feeling?  Are you grateful … not just for the days OFF from work … but for the opportunity TO work?  If not, give it some thought.

emailVaughn     About Vaughn Skow

And now, a little HISTORY on the “Labor Day” holiday … straight from the “History” Channel: (Read On)

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. 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. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicagopolicemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it.Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.

Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.

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