This weekend, millions of Americans will hit the road, fire up the grill, and swarm to the beaches for the Labor Day weekend. The holiday has evolved dramatically from its origins, which are debated today.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the designation of Labor Day as a federal holiday, which arose from a tenuous labor dispute by Pullman Palace Car workers in Illinois in 1894.
The Pullman strike, remembered today as a landmark in American labor history, caused such ill feelings between workers and the government that President Grover Cleveland, as a conciliatory measure, signed an order establishing Labor Day as a federal holiday on the first Monday of September.
However, Labor Day was nothing new in America. Some believe that its roots are actually Canadian, in an 1872 parade in Toronto to support a strike against a 58-hour work week. A decade later, a proposal was presented at a Central Labor Union meeting in New York in May 1882 for a “monster labor festival” in early September.
The result was the first Labor Day parade, held near city hall and along Broadway in New York on Sept. 5, 1882. Police, concerned that confrontations may occur, surrounded city hall on horseback and on foot, many of them carrying clubs.
An hour later, only a handful of marchers had shown up, and there was no musical accompaniment. Just in time, two hundred members from the Jewelers Union of Newark arrived with a band, and the procession began.
Spectators joined the parade, and finally, some ten to twenty thousand marched through lower Manhattan. At the end, some workers went back to their jobs, but many spent the rest of the day at a party which included speeches, cigars, and “lager beer kegs…mounted in every conceivable place.”
Who suggested the first Labor Day is of considerable debate. Many accounts credit Peter McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.
McGuire reportedly proposed an annual celebration at a CLU meeting on May 12, 1882 to remember those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” He suggested a street parade to “publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.” McGuire is said to have witnessed the 1872 commemoration in Toronto, and wanted something similar in the United States.
McGuire’s role, though, has been challenged in recent years by the emergence of the story of Matthew Maguire, a machinist and member of the Knights of Labor.
Adding credence was a recollection by the grand marshal of the 1882 New York parade, who corroborated Maguire’s role. In a 2011 interview, former Department of Labor historian Linda Stinson expressed confidence in the Maguire story.
Peter McGuire’s role may have also been embellished by Samuel Gompers, a close friend and American Federation of Labor powerhouse, who apparently disliked Matthew Maguire’s radical political views that reflected poorly on the AF of L. Maguire ran for Vice President on the National Socialist Labor Party in 1896.
Some states began to observe Labor Day on their own, starting with Oregon in 1887. Colorado, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey followed suit.
Continued labor strife, though, forced the federal government’s hand at designating a national holiday. The Pullman Palace Car strike of May 1894, ignited by layoffs and wage cuts amid unchanging rents in the company town of Pullman, Ill. induced the American Railway Union, under the direction of Eugene Debs, to call for national boycotts of Pullman trains. Rioting, burning of cars, and other violence spread nationwide, and rail traffic was brought to a standstill in many areas.
Throughout the strike, President Grover Cleveland, worried about the political backlash in what was a midterm election year. Democrats, fearing a loss of Congress, and the president proposed a solution – to create a national holiday to honor the American worker.
Sen. James Henderson Kyle, a Populist from South Dakota, introduced legislation to designate the first Monday in September as a national holiday. The bill was rushed through Congress, and Cleveland quickly signed the proposal into law on June 28, 1894.
The September date was chosen so there would be no conflict with the International Workers Day celebration of May 1, which harkened back to the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in May 1886 and was viewed by many Americans as socialistic or anarchistic.
Owen Kummer, 3, excitedly came into the kitchen. He had a new word to share with his parents.
Kummer, who lives in Colfax, North Dakota, was “hansdum, hansdum!” on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 28. After a few moments, Megan and Blaine Kummer and Owen’s nurse, Erica Muchow, were able to figure out the word.
“You’re saying ‘handsome,’” said Megan Kummer, Richland County’s State’s Attorney. “Earlier this morning, we told him how handsome he looks.”
Sunday, Sept. 1 is a special day for the Kummers. It’s the third anniversary of Owen Kummer’s homecoming from the neonatal intensive care unit at Sanford Health, Fargo. Since his Nov. 4, 2015 birth, Owen had only ever lived in the care unit.
“It’s hard to remember what that was live, not being home with him,” Megan Kummer, 36, said. “That was a big chunk of our lives. Ten months is a long time.”
The Kummers remain grateful for the support they received in the neonatal intensive care unit. When Daily News visited, Megan and Blaine Kummer were preparing presents to distribute at Sanford.
“We spent so much time there and did form deep, deep bonds,” Megan Kummer said.
Blaine Kummer, 39, farms on the same land he was raised. Over the past three years, Owen Kummer has gotten to see more of his home and the world at large.
When he was discharged from the hospital, Owen was on a ventilator for 24 hours a day. Leading up to his second birthday, he was able to gradually spend more time off the ventilator.
Owen Kummer also arrived home with a tracheostomy tube, which would be removed in October 2018. Two months later, he received surgery to close the hole in his neck.
Karensa Tischer, a friend of the Kummers, photographed Owen Kummer leading up to the surgery. Wearing a shirt proclaiming his membership in the “Naked Neck Club,” Owen stood by the equipment that once defined his everyday life.
“Now he can play in the back or jump in the lake and we don’t have to worry,” Megan Kummer said.
“He’s able to eat and drink water,” Blaine Kummer added.
Owen Kummer’s immune system is stronger than it was three years ago. His speech development, delayed by the tracheostomy tube, continues to improve. He does still live with a feeding tube, although it’s currently used just for water.
“I blend all of his food. I spend a lot of time making food. It’s working, making food and sleeping,” Megan Kummer said, laughing.
Owen Kummer currently undergoes speech therapy three times a week, occupational therapy twice a week and physical therapy once a week. The Kummers had the option of having their son receive in-patient care at a feeding clinic in Fargo, but it would interrupt his current therapy regimen.
“We’re trying to make as many gains as we can at home and have been consulting with the doctor who runs the feeding program,” Megan Kummer said.
Muchow, 29, has been Owen’s nurse since his birth. Following his hospitalization, she became a day nurse at the Kummer home. While Muchow is not a live-in nurse, she has been a consistent and beneficial part of Owen Kummer’s life.
In 2015, Owen and his twin brother Liam were born at approximately 22 weeks and six days into their mother’s pregnancy, or approximately 17 weeks premature. The Kummers’ first children, each weighed only a pound.
After 130 days and having reached a weight of seven pounds, Liam died peacefully in the arms of his parents on March 13, 2016.
The Kummers have not yet talked with Owen about his brother. They have photos of both their sons. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to talk about the situation with someone so young.
“It’s on the to-do list. I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” Megan Kummer said.
The Kummer family also includes Indy, 6, a Bernese Mountain dog adopted in 2018. Indy, short for “Independence,” was born on July 4.
Independence is something Owen Kummer’s lately receiving more of. His parents are happy they can take him to the park and lake. They’re looking forward to enrolling him in swimming lessons. In the meantime, there’s dancing to music, playing with his toy trucks and other fun activities.
“Being three means that everything in your life is an adventure,” Megan Kummer said.
The Kummers recently spent a Sunday running errands. They marveled at how Owen never complained or cried, getting excited when he’d see places like a grocery store.
“He gets to push the cart and open and close the freezer doors,” Megan Kummer said. “One time, we told him he could bring home a treat for dad and he brought home those Zebra Cakes.”
Once everyone agreed how handsome he is, Owen Kummer had a new trick. He showed off his toy truck, listening to and repeating the adults’ comments of “green” and “really nice.”
“He’s generally a very happy kid,” Blaine Kummer said.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., visited North Dakota State College of Science’s locations in Wahpeton and Fargo Wednesday, Aug. 28.
Foxx learned about the college’s successful practices in delivering career and technical education, NDSCS said.
“It was a pleasure to visit NDSCS and see the excellent education programs being offered there,” Foxx said. “NDSCS has a proud history of providing programs that help students earn skills to fill in-demand careers and to lead successful lives.”
Since 2005, Foxx has represented North Carolina’s fifth district in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a ranking member and previous chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
“The college has kept up to date with the needs of businesses and industries in North Dakota, Minnesota and other states over the years. I was very impressed with the facilities and the commitment of everyone associated with NDSCS to meet skilled worker needs,” Foxx said.
Foxx’s time in Wahpeton included seeing NDSCS’ precision machining technology lab. She met with Steve Johnson, chair of the manufacturing department.
“While visiting NDSCS, she heard from college faculty and staff and toured the college’s state of the art labs,” the college stated.
NDSCS representatives highlighted the college’s work in innovative areas including building industry partnerships and supporting student sponsorships.
“Achieving and maintaining the highest standards in American education is key to our national competitiveness and to the success of individual Americans,” Foxx stated on her website. “The United States is home to educational opportunities which have no equal throughout.”
Foxx is also a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Her colleagues on the committee include U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.
The congresswoman is a strong advocate for career and technical education, NDSCS said. She identified the college as a premiere provider of career-focused academic programming.
“We are honored Congresswoman Foxx chose to visit NDSCS,” said Dr. John Richman, the college’s president. “This is another example of our college being recognized as a national leader in providing career and technical education. We were happy to share information about the exciting work of our faculty and staff to grow these programs.”
1 Get your motors running: Hankinson Fire Dept. hosts a demolition derby with three classes of competition from 2-6 p.m. in Hankinson, North Dakota, next Saturday, Sept. 7.
2 Save the Date: Wahpeton Fire Dept. will hold its annual Community Corn Feed Monday, Sept. 9 at the north side fire hall. Free-will donations accepted.
3 Today in History: World War II began and ended on a Sept. 1. The war began in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, and ended in 1945, when Japan formally surrendered aboard the USS Missouri.
4 Today’s Birthdays include “Tarzan of the Apes” author Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950); heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano (1923-1969); country singer Conway Twitty (1933-1993); comedienne Lily Tomlin (1939-); Bee Gees member Barry Gibb (1946-); singer Gloria Estefan (1957-) and singer-actress Zendaya (1996-).
Two men are in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries after leading police on a chase through Breckenridge, Minnesota, overnight Thursday and then losing control of the vehicle, which rolled.
Breckenridge Police Chief Kris Karlgaard said officers initiated a traffic stop at 12:32 a.m. Aug. 30 on a 2002 Chevy SUV. The driver attempted to evade the officer, which resulted in a pursuit.
The pursuit began on the north side of Breckenridge, reaching speeds of 90-100 miles per hour, and ended just outside city limits on the south side of Breckenridge at the intersection of County Road 9 and 360th Street. The SUV was traveling westbound on 360th Street when it left the roadway, rolled and came to rest in a field on the west side of County Road 9, Karlgaard said.
Officers located two adult male occupants inside the vehicle, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old. Extrication was used to remove one of the occupants, and both were transported by ambulance. They are being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Police vehicles were not involved in the crash and no officers were injured during the incident.
In addition to Breckenridge Police Department, responding agencies were the Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, Breckenridge Fire Department and Ambulance Service, Inc.
Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the incident, Karlgaard said, which is currently under investigation. The identities of the suspects have not been released by law enforcement yet.
In August, the Lexington Correctional Center dedicated its gym to Eric “Coach” Gulbranson, 55, who died in a traffic collision July 18, 2018. Gulbranson, formerly of Fairmount, North Dakota, worked as a corrections activities officer at the Oklahoma prison.
His younger brother, Matthew, wrote in Eric’s obituary last year that he “genuinely cared about the inmates and treated them with dignity and respect, and they responded to his authenticity. Eric loved the forgotten man and I was so proud to watch him in action behind the razor wire when I visited him at work. With just a whistle and GPS (God’s Prophetic Spirit), he had no fear, just love for his fellow man.”
Former inmate Jimmy Scott wrote a letter about “Coach” last year after his passing, which ran in the Daily News. An excerpt reads, “Coach spoke of his Dad and brothers often and I would like for them to know the impact that he had on my life. Eric prayed for me, mentored me and encouraged me every single moment that I was around him. He was a very special person to many people and he truly loved the Lord. He showed it in his day to day actions and he loved the unlovable. He was genuine. It’s difficult to work in a prison for as long as Eric did and still had a heart and soul for people, but he did.”
Eric’s mother, Mary Ellen (Pinkney) Parnell, Fairmount, shared in a private Facebook group dedicated to her son’s memory that he worked as the activities director for 24 years, keeping the inmates busy with artwork, leather work, playing sports and keeping the prison grounds beautiful. He led them in building a baseball field, raised money for the children of inmates and taught them about working hard, the importance of integrity and giving back to your community.
“It truly was a precious day,” she wrote about the Aug. 16 gym dedication service. “I got to hear co-workers, prisoners share about their love for Eric and the difference he made through his love for God. Everyone knew what was first in his life.”
A color guard and the Lexington Men’s Choir opened the ceremony with the national anthem. The chaplain and warden each spoke, and invited staff to share their memories of “Coach.”
Inside the gym, the inmates shared their stories of how he impacted their lives. One, Todd Saunders, who was an outstanding student and athlete before getting involved in drugs and a crime that put him in prison for life, shared about “Coach” asking him to write to his nephew, Seth, to try to get him on the correct path. Saunders regarded it as a high honor and did write to him, and that letter did the job and Seth was changed.
After the stories were shared, three inmates pulled down a curtain on the wall and revealed a large plaque which reads, “Gulbranson Memorial Gymnasium.” His family was also shown the yard, “that was as beautiful as any collegiate playing field, the culmination of one of Eric’s many visions,” a family member wrote.
His mom said she is very grateful for the experience and being able to hear directly how her son touched so many lives.