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Some work, some rest on Labor Day

September 06, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - With the exception of law enforcement, emergency service, retail and restaurant employees, most people are celebrating Labor Day away from work.

For many, it's a three-day weekend that signifies the end of summer, said Mike FitzGerald of Hagerstown.

But FitzGerald admits he doesn't have a clue about why the Labor Day holiday is observed.

"Ya know, it's not something I've ever thought about," he said.

And while he understands the obvious meaning implied in the holiday's title, he gave a smile of assurance before saying he believes Labor Day celebrations are good for employee morale.

"If people are conscientious and working hard, a day of celebration for those who do work hard is good," said FitzGerald, who has today off.

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That is not the case for Todd Garnand, a Banana Republic sales associates, who is scheduled to work at the Prime Outlets at Hagerstown store, where he expects large crowds in search of bargains.

"I don't mind working because I love my job," Garnand said.

He said he supports special recognition for men and women working today at companies that operate seven days a week.

"Medical staff, like nurses, they have to work most holidays, but we need them," Garnand said. "And without the media working, the public wouldn't know what was going on in the world."

Labor Day celebrations are rooted in the growth of labor organizations throughout the United States, according to the Department of Labor Web site, www.dol.gov.

According to the site, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City.

By 1885, Labor Day was recognized in many large industrial areas throughout the country. Referred to as the "working men's holiday," the Web site says the holiday observance was moved to the first Monday in September of the same year.

In 1894, 23 states had adopted the Labor Day holiday and by that summer, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a national holiday.

Working or not, James D. Fielder Jr., Maryland's Secretary of the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulations, said Marylanders should use the holiday as an opportunity to pause and recognize the importance of a healthy work force.

"The right to work is one of the most important rights that we have in the state and in the nation," he said.

In July, Fielder said Maryland led the nation in nonfarm job creation. He cited the largest job growth in areas such as education, hospitality and government.

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