Easily the most underappreciated holiday, Labor Day is often forgotten until we are reminded that it affords us a three-day weekend, which is a far cry from its humble roots.

The first documented “celebration” occurred on Sept. 5, 1882, when 10,000 citizens marched down the streets of Manhattan for labor rights, which were scarce at the time. In fact, the average American worked 12 hours a day six days a week. It would be another 34 years, until the passage of the Adamson Act in 1916, that the modern standard eight-hour workday was established.

Despite its name and the fact that the day is specifically dedicated to labor appreciation, not all employees — including first responders, hospital staff, retail and food industry workers and others — have the federal holiday off.

The “unofficial end of summer,” Labor Day weekend is also the second busiest travel holiday (behind Memorial Day) with an estimated 17.5 million passengers expected to fly U.S. airlines and an additional 35 million Americans taking to the roads.

According to AAA, holiday weekend traffic isn’t expected to be as busy as Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, but — fueled in part by lower gas prices than a year ago — there will be more motorists than last Labor Day. 

Between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 a.m. Monday, the National Safety Council estimates that 398 Americans will die in traffic accidents. Law enforcement agencies across the nation will also be out in force.

Both the Frankfort Police Department and Kentucky State Police are stepping up enforcement efforts over the three-day span with the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. In addition to focusing on impaired drivers, the agencies will be conducting traffic safety checkpoints, looking for seat belt, child restraint and registration violations, vehicle safety, insurance compliance and speeders.

On a weekend meant to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American workforce, please do so responsibly. Don’t drink or do drugs and drive.

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