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I’ve heard that Labor Day was first celebrated in Boston on Sept 5, 1882. It wasn’t until 1894 that it became a federal holiday. That was an effort encouraged by President Grover Cleveland to reconcile with the labor movement and prevent further violence.

You see, in the spring of that year was the famous Pullman Strike. It took place in Pullman, Illinois, a town situated between Chicago and Gary, Indiana. That was the home of the Pullman Palace Car Company which built cars for the railroad, including luxury sleeping cars and dining cars. Some 3,000 workers went on strike because of reduced wages. It was a very violent strike in which several workers were killed by federal troops sent there to by Cleveland.

Labor Day was instituted as a holiday to call attention to the strength and unity of the organized labor movement.

We who are believers in Christ are members of a divine union. As such, we share the benefits that kinship offers. I’m not talking about guaranteed wages, paid vacations and holidays, insurance, pensions, and other benefits secured through collective bargaining. I’m talking about benefits of a more spiritual than material nature, of a more eternal than temporal nature.

(From a sermon by Doane Brubaker, Your Place in the Divine Labor Union, 8/29/2011)

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