What’s not to love about Labor Day? A long weekend, BBQs and parades — really, no responsibilities except for having a great time and toasting the end of summer. But what exactly does Labor Day celebrate?

The history of Labor Day is closely linked to the Pullman Strike, which occurred in 1894 between labor unions and railroads. The protest by Chicago railroad workers over their reduced rages quickly became a violent nationwide conflict that ultimately saw 13 strikers killed when the military was brought in to quell the aggression.

After the horrors (and horrible publicity) of the strike, President Grover Cleveland made settlement with the labor movement one of his top priorities so as to avoid further conflict. Thus, he made Labor Day — which was first observed by the Central Labor Union of New York in 1892 — a federal holiday. Parades and festivals followed, and Labor Day as we know it was born.

Have a happy Labor Day!

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