A brief history of Labor Day

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Labor Day has multiple meanings for me. It marks the turning of the year, a closing summer picnic, the first day of school, the last day of my home state fair, the first inkling of autumn, and the day when the presidential campaign begins, as they say, "in earnest."

This year, we have had no interruption in electoral politics. No matter. Labor Day remains that day when we experience both the full-throated pleasures of summer and the deep-voiced arguments of a colder season. Picnics, parades and politicians compete for our attention.

Labor Day's conflicted purposes date back to its origins. Created during the troubled labor times of the late 1800s, the holiday was a tribute to all workers and, more importantly, to working-class voters. It was meant to honor wage-earners, those who, in labor's point of view, "created all value."...

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