The origins of Labor Day are disputed, but this much is certain: On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law establishing the first Monday in September of each year as a national holiday. This is what the U.S. Department of Labor says on its website: “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership — the American worker.”
We hope you’re enjoying this Labor Day weekend. Let’s be frank: It’s always something of a mixed bag of a holiday.
Along with Memorial Day weekend, it serves to bookend — unofficially at least — the summer. But can a holiday weekend that ushers in September compete with one that heralds the glorious months of June, July and August?
We are second to no one in our admiration of American workers, and believe strongly they deserve to be celebrated. We’re just sorry that their day is associated with the end of summer vacations and the resumption of business as usual.
For parents with kids in school, September means a return to supervising homework in the evenings, jam-packed schedules and the grind of packing lunches. For all of us, it means fewer hours of daylight — leaving work at 6 or 7 p.m. isn’t so bad while the skies are still bright — and more complicated commutes to work (because everyone is back from vacation, and school buses are back on the roads).
The members of the LNP Editorial Board are divided in their preferences for the particular seasons. But we concur that no pumpkin spice-flavored delicacy can compare to strawberries, cherries, sweet corn and mint freshly harvested from the gardens and fields of Lancaster County.
Still, September has its virtues — among them, cooler days, Friday night lights, Lancaster City Restaurant Week (Sept. 16-22), Oktoberfest at the Lancaster Liederkranz (Sept. 20-22), the Denver Fair (Sept. 10-14), the Solanco Fair (Sept. 18-20), the Ephrata Fair (Sept. 24-28) and the West Lampeter Fair (Sept. 25-27).
Whatever your favorite season, however you celebrate this Labor Day weekend and the September days to follow, we wish you well.
As we write this, we are keeping a nervous eye on the forecast and the projected track of Hurricane Dorian. Ominously, that hurricane was forecast Friday to become a Category 4.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a Category 4 hurricane brings winds between 130-156 mph, catastrophic damage, fallen trees and power outages lasting weeks to possibly months; most of the affected areas “will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
In an advisory posted at 5 p.m. Friday, shortly before this Perspective section went to press, the National Hurricane Center said Dorian already had become an “extremely dangerous” hurricane, and it was heading for the Northwestern Bahamas.
The hurricane center said that based on its track as of Friday afternoon, Dorian’s core should “be near the Florida east coast late Monday.”
The hurricane center’s scientists noted that it was too soon at that point to “determine where the highest storm surge and winds will occur.”
But this was their greatest concern: that Dorian would stall over Florida, causing a “prolonged, drawn-out event of strong winds, dangerous storm surge, and heavy rainfall.”
“Slow is never our friend,” Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, said, as quoted in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Slow means more rain. Slow means a longer period of time to get those winds and saturate the soils. More trees down. More power outages.”
As Mark Paul, assistant professor of economics at New College of Florida, pointed out, even prepping for a hurricane is expensive. “This is a major problem, especially as 40% of people don’t have $400 to spend on emergency expenses, like hurricanes,” he tweeted.
The one silver lining: Puerto Rico — which still is struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017 — avoided Dorian’s wrath last week. For the many Lancaster County residents who have relatives on that U.S. island territory, this surely was a great relief. We were relieved for them.
Now, we wait to see what Hurricane Dorian brings. We wait and pray, along with the residents of Florida and other parts of the Southeast. And hope this Labor Day weekend turns out to be unremarkable, in the best possible way.
An update Sunday: The National Hurricane Center said Sunday afternoon that Dorian had grown larger and had become an "extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane" with maximum sustained winds to near 180 mph. "Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, but Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days."
According to the center's website, a "prolonged period of catastrophic winds and storm surge will affect the Abaco Islands" in the Bahamas on Sunday." These catastrophic conditions were likely on Grand Bahama Island later Sunday.
We are thinking of everyone in the affected areas, and fervently hoping they escape the danger.
Just in case
If the worst — or even the very bad — happens, relief workers are going to need our help. Check charitynavigator.org for a reputable relief organization.
Or visit redcross.org, call 800-RED CROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Red Cross website says it has an emergency need for blood donations “following a summer shortage. ... We encourage eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm to give blood or platelets to help ensure a sufficient blood supply.”