Labor Day …


the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Founder of Labor Day

The father of labor day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

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

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’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.

A Nationwide Holiday

Women's Auxiliary Typographical UnionThe form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

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 pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

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Source: Department of Labor

A Century later & 40 failed attempts,Congress passed a measure and was signed into law


9 Things You May Not Know About “The Star-Spangled Banner”

September 12, 2014
By the dawn’s early light on September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key peered through a spyglass and spotted an American flag still waving over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry after a fierce night of British bombardment. In a patriotic fervor, the man called “Frank” Key by family and friends penned the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Two hundred years later, learn nine surprising facts about the national anthem of the United States and the man who wrote its lyrics.

1. Francis Scott Key intended his verses to be song lyrics, not poetry.
“The Star Spangled-Banner” was not a poem set to a melody years later. Although Key was an amateur poet and not a songwriter, when he composed his verses, he intended them to accompany a popular song of the day. “We know he had the tune in mind because the rhyme and meter exactly fit it,” says Marc Leepson, author of the new Key biography “What So Proudly We Hailed.” The first broadside of the verses, printed just days after the battle, noted that the words should be sung to the melody of “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Key was quite familiar with the tune, having used it to accompany an 1805 poem, which included a reference to a “star-spangled flag,” he had written to honor Barbary War naval heroes Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart.

Although Key composed the patriotic lyrics amid a burst of anti-British euphoria, “To Anacreon in Heaven” was ironically an English song composed in 1775 that served as the theme song of the upper-crust Anacreontic Society of London and a popular pub staple.

2. Key was not imprisoned on a British warship when he penned his verses.
In his capacity as a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Key had been dispatched by President James Madison on a mission to Baltimore to negotiate for the release of Dr. William Beanes, a prominent surgeon captured at the Battle of Bladensburg. Accompanied by John Stuart Skinner, a fellow lawyer working for the State Department, Key set sail on an American sloop in Baltimore Harbor, and on September 7 the pair boarded the British ship Tonnant, where they dined and secured the prisoner’s release under one condition—they could not go ashore until after the British attacked Baltimore. Accompanied by British guards on September 10, Key returned to the American sloop from which he witnessed the bombardment behind the 50-ship British fleet.

The garrison flag that was raised over Fort McHenry, on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The garrison flag that was raised over Fort McHenry, on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

3. The flag Key “hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming” did not fly “through the perilous fight.”
In addition to a thunderstorm of bombs, a torrent of rain fell on Fort McHenry throughout the night of the Battle of Baltimore. The fort’s 30-by-42-foot garrison flag was so massive that it required 11 men to hoist when dry, and if waterlogged the woolen banner could have weighed upwards of 500 pounds and snapped the flagpole. So as the rain poured down, a smaller storm flag that measured 17-by-25 feet flew in its place. “In the morning they most likely took down the rain-soaked storm flag and hoisted the bigger one,” Leepson says, “and that’s the flag Key saw in the morning.”

4. The song was not originally entitled “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
When Key scrawled his lyrics on the back of a letter he pulled from his pocket on the morning of September 14, he did not give them any title. Within a week, Key’s verses were printed on broadsides and in Baltimore newspapers under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” In November, a Baltimore music store printed the patriotic song with sheet music for the first time under the more lyrical title “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Key's handwritten draft
Key’s handwritten draft

5. It did not become the national anthem until more than a century after it was written.
Along with “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” was among the prevalent patriotic airs in the aftermath of the War of 1812. During the Civil War, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an anthem for Union troops, and the song increased in popularity in the ensuing decades, which led to President Woodrow Wilson signing an executive order in 1916 designating it as “the national anthem of the United States” for all military ceremonies. On March 3, 1931, after 40 previous attempts failed, a measure passed Congress and was signed into law that formally designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.

6. The national anthem has four verses.
The version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” traditionally sung on patriotic occasions and at sporting events is only the song’s first verse. All four verses conclude with the same line: “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” (In 1861, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a fifth verse to support the Union cause in the Civil War and denounce “the traitor that dares to defile the flag of her stars.”)

7. Key opposed American entry into the War of 1812.
Ironically, the man who created one of the lasting patriotic legacies of the War of 1812 adamantly opposed the conflict at its outset. Key referred to the war as “abominable” and “a lump of wickedness.” However, his opposition to the war softened after the British began to raid nearby Chesapeake Bay communities in 1813 and 1814, and he briefly served in a Georgetown wartime militia.

Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key

8. Key was a consummate Washington insider.
Although Key loathed politics, he was a prominent figure in Washington, D.C. “He was an important player in the early republic,” Leepson says. “He was a very successful and influential lawyer at the highest levels in Washington.” Key ran a thriving law practice, served as a trusted advisor in Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and was appointed a United States Attorney in 1833. He prosecuted hundreds of cases, including that of Richard Lawrence for the attempted assassination of Jackson, and argued over 100 cases before the United States Supreme Court.

9. Key was a one-hit wonder who might have been tone deaf.
Key was much more adept in his legal day job than he was as an amateur poet. Most of the odes he composed were never meant to be seen beyond family and friends, and none came remotely close to realizing the popular fame of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In addition to being a middling poet, Key also had a hard time carrying a tune. “Key’s family said he was not musical,” Leepson says, “which means he likely was tone deaf.”

In the Library “Words on the move” john Mcwhoter


bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes — and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it

Language is always changing — but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? — it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.

But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages, and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them.

Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn?

McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

Protecting our Island Earth


The White House, Washington

Born and raised in Hawai’i, I’ve spent the better part of my life dedicated to the ocean that surrounds me. This is why President Obama’s recent expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Sanctuary off the coast of northern Hawaii, means so much to me.

I have voyaged thousands of miles of open ocean by canoe, guided by the sun, stars and swells, practicing the art and science of Polynesian wayfinding and navigation. This tradition and legacy of wayfinding goes back centuries in my culture. We have worked hard to bring it back from the point of extinction, and perpetuate it as a means for understanding our environment, our history, our culture, our future and our world.

On long voyages, surrounded by the vast blue ocean, we come face to face with the Hawaiian concept of “mālama ” — or “caretaking.” My ancestors learned long ago that if they took care of their canoe and each other, they would arrive safely at their destination.

On islands, as on the canoe, we care for each other and our resources, and work together to protect that which is sacred and fragile — our Island Earth.

As I sail around the world, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what can happen to special places if they are not protected. Initiatives like the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument help us perpetuate and build upon more than a hundred years of protection efforts by thousands of people in our community and around the globe. Thanks to their work to advocate for protection of this area’s cultural and ecological resources and thanks to President Obama, Papahānaumokuākea will become the largest marine protected area on earth. This is a step in the right direction at this crucial time for Island Earth.

Ours is a blue planet, and the health of our Island Earth and her people is dependent on the health of the ocean. If climate change and protection of biodiversity and wildlife are part of the biggest challenge of the 21st century, then ocean protection is the strongest solution.

The expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Sanctuary will help keep our waters safe — improving ocean resilience, helping the region’s distinct physical and biological resources adapt, and creating a natural laboratory that will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems.

Join me in celebrating the work of those who stand for and work to mālama our precious honua, those who are caring for our Island Earth.

And I’ll hope you’ll take the time to watch the President’s remarks on conservation from the Midway Atoll.

Aloha Pumehana,

Nainoa Thompson