On Monday, Sept. 4, we recognize the American workforce through the observance of Labor Day. It is a holiday borne out of the fight against harsh working conditions and now serves as an annual day to celebrate the value and societal contributions of the workforce. As part of this holiday, please take time to recognize all those who are in the civilian workforce – both on and off-post who contribute in any measure to the economic strength of the United States of America.

The American Industrial Revolution of the late 1800’s found laborers, including children as young as five and six, working 12-hour days, seven days a week for meager wages and in spartan, unsafe conditions. Labor unions sought to change and improve the sparse conditions and pay. Their efforts led to the idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” which gave way to the first Labor Day being held in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, led by the Central Labor Union. Eventually, the idea caught on around the country and many states passed legislation naming the first Monday in September as a day to recognize the American worker.

However, in May 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest pay reductions and firings of union officials. In June, the American Railroad Union boycotted all Pullman rail cars, resulting in a nationwide hobbling of railroad traffic. The U.S. Government called in troops to quell the massive riots, unfortunately more than a dozen workers were killed during the process. Congress, in the wake of the civil unrest and in an effort to restore ties with the workforce, made Labor Day a national, legal holiday.

The “founder” of the observance remains a mystery still today. Some say it was the cofounder of the American Federation of Labor Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter by trade, who proposed the idea after seeing an annual labor festival in Toronto, Canada. However, others believe it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist and a secretary of the CLU, who proposed a national Labor Day holiday after the CLU led a successful public parade and demonstration held by various labor unions.

In the time since I took command of the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Campbell, I’ve noticed that our Army civilian employees are the best of the best in providing the necessary, required and, unparalleled support for our Soldiers and Families. Certainly without them, Fort Campbell would not be the best Soldier and Family experience, nor the best installation in the Army. Army civilians here play a vital role in the readiness of our Soldiers, enabling them to successfully carry out their missions.  I personally thank each of you for your significant contributions to our national security as well as for personifying a quality service culture environment.

I’d also like to recognize all of the military spouses and Family members who are part of the United States workforce. You, too, make our nation stronger and contribute to national security. Enjoy Labor Day.

Labor Day also signals the end of summer and the start of the school year. The long holiday weekend offers extended time for travel or to relax at home. No matter how you choose to celebrate, whether you are entertaining friends, driving across country or finishing a home project, please return safely home and be ready to work on Tuesday.

In a matter of weeks, we’ll transition to the fall and winter seasons, which will bring forth other installation activities such as the Military Survivor Appreciation Week, including the annual Boots on the Ground display at division headquarters and the Run for the Fallen. Don’t forget Halloween, Thanksgiving or the annual Christmas-tree lighting. While summer is ending, fall on Fort Campbell has plenty to offer.

Please enjoy yourselves thoroughly as we celebrate American workers and usher out summer. Have a restful and safe Labor Day weekend.

Air Assault! Soldier for Life!