Sunday, September 04, 2016

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of S.A. 9-4

Just a Thought: Labor Day Weekend
by Steve Walker

This is Labor Day Weekend and tomorrow is Labor Day.

I love Labor Day since every five, or six years my birthday lands on that national holiday. I celebrated my 65th birthday on Labor Day at VFW Post 76 downtown for the beginning of the official political season kickoff in 2011 for the 2012 May Primary. That birthday however was especially memorable since I qualified for Social Security and Medicare!

While that Labor Day sticks out in my mind as unforgettable, most other holiday birthdays not so much. However, my one other memorable Labor Day birthday was my 59th  birthday, as I stood on the sidelines of a local high school football field watching the New Orleans Saints play a scrimmage practice. Owner Tom Benson stood on the sidelines. I was privileged to shake his hand. That was during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster.  

As far as future Labor Day birthdays for me, if I can survive and make it 4 more times, I will celebrate my 98th birthday on that special Labor Day. Could be wishful thinking on my part right?

Since this year, September 5th lands tomorrow on Labor Day once again, I will hit the ripe old age of 70, or as I call it, three score and ten! Local singer Erica Gonzaba-Horvat who was a finalist some years ago for Puerto Rico’s version of American Idol, l will celebrate her birthday with me as well. She turns 31. This grandpa tells her “my shoes are older than you!” Actress Raqhel Welsh is also born on September 5th. What most fans don’t know is she is Hispanic. She was born in 1940 as Raquel Tejeda. She worked as a model, pin up girl and actress. She made her debut in the movie, “One million B.C.”

Ionically the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th 1882 in New York City in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The CLU held its second Labor Day holiday just one year later on September 5th, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the official holiday, as originally proposed, and the CLU urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "working men's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

In 1882, Matthew Maguire a machinist first proposed the holiday while serving as Secretary of the CLU of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter McGuire in May 1882, after witnessing the annual Labor Festival in Toronto Canada. Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, signed into law by President Grover Cleveland, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.

Over time, speeches by prominent men and women were introduced as part of Labor Day, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday to include modern celebrations to include Labor Day sales and specials.

As a former President of the Harlandale Federation of Teachers which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, I served on the Central Labor Council of Labor Unions in Bexar County. As a union member I have been an active part of Labor Day celebrations over the years that happen coincidentally to coincide with an occasional birthday for me, like tomorrow!

Since I have been affiliated with the Bexar County AFL-CIO we have also had three female Hispanic presidents to include Alicia Garza, Rachel Hernandez and most recently Gloria Parra. In the 70s the local elected the first Hispanic female president, Joan Suarez.

Whether or not you are a union member, remember it is a national holiday to honor all hardworking Americans who provide for their families. So Happy Labor Day tomorrow and remember me when you celebrate!!!

As always, I write “Just a Thought.”
 
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.

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