Dear Crabby, What’s the Difference Between Memorial and Labor Day?

Dear Crabby,

I am a proud American and always do my best to properly observe our national holidays. But recently a Canadian friend asked me what the difference is between Memorial Day and Labor Day; and you know what? I was kind of at a loss for words. Can you help me out?

Sincerely, Pete Patriot

Dear Mr. Patriot,

Don’t fret. I have a feeling you’re not alone in this. My bet is that a lot of Americans are so used to celebrating these holidays that they’ve long forgotten how they got started in the first place. So, since I’ve been around since the dawn of time (at least that’s what my grandkids think) I’ll give everyone a quick history lesson. First, both are federal holidays, which means banks will be closed, most people will have the day off, and of course, lots DearCrabbyand lots of sales. We Americans love our sales. And that’s about where the similarities end. Memorial Day originated after the Civil War (and no, I didn’t fight in it) to remember all the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the time the 20th century rolled around, that honor was extended to all men and women who gave their lives while serving their country. It is celebrated on the last Monday in May and most people treat it like the kickoff to the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end. Okay, so Labor Day is about honoring a different kind of American hero: the men and women of the labor movement. We all know our great country was built by hard work and sweat. As a young country, we’ve worked hard for everything we have, so why shouldn’t we take time to recognize that? That’s why way back in the 1880s, President Grover Cleveland made the first Monday of September the official Labor Day holiday and we’ve been celebrating ever since.

I guess the main point of both these holidays is that we take time to properly observe them. Without the servicemen and servicewomen sacrificing their lives, we wouldn’t have many of the freedoms that we enjoy (like an old curmudgeon getting to say whatever pops into his head); and without men and women willing to do the heavy lifting, we wouldn’t have things like cars, coal, food, well, you get the picture.

So, this Labor Day have fun with your friends and family. Enjoy a cookout and relax. But if you see someone who fits the description, take time to say ‘Thank You.’ Because they are the people that not only make our country great, they are also the ones who keep it running.

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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