Still important in 2016: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.
Especially important in 2016. It’s a presidential election year. Wave the flag! Labor Day is the “traditional” start of the campaign for the presidency. In your town, most likely, there is a picnic sponsored by a union or other pro-labor group, at which you would be welcomed and can meet many of the candidates in your local races. Go!
Put your flag out at sunrise, take it down at sunset. (Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member. We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)
Labor Day 2016 in the United States is a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.
“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war. Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2015, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.
In war, America turned to organized labor to get the jobs done. Not only do we owe a debt to labor that deserves remembering, we have many jobs that need to be done now, for which organized labor is the best group to turn to.
The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:
Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]
Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.
Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified
What’s the history of labor in your family?
More, Other Resources: