Labor Day, now observed on the first Monday in September, marks the traditional end of summer and the beginning of the new school year in our area, but is a far cry from the first Labor Day, celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882.
That original event included a parade and festival for workers and their families, many of them immigrants, who had the day off. Through the years, the parades got so large that many municipalities were unable to accommodate them any longer. Picnics and speeches by public officials have replaced those early rallies.
The idea behind Labor Day, though, as an opportunity to honor the ordinary worker on whose labor the nation depended for its economy, production, and standard of living, survives. By 1894, Congress had made Labor Day a legal holiday. It is remark-able to ponder that, in the late 19th century, most working conditions were pretty abysmal. There were no safety requirements, no minimum age for workers, no 8-hour day, no paid sick leave or vacation time. All of these improvements came about through decades of effort by labor unions to advance the living and working conditions for workers, and it continues. The battle lines for labor unions today are drawn on availability of health care, retirement benefits, equity and fairness, and keeping good jobs here at home. We all have benefitted from those efforts, and likely will continue to do so.
Last year, I wrote about the growing popularity of fast pitch women’s softball, and the opportunities offered by a local organization, The Perfect Storm, for girls age eight to 14 to play in various leagues, travel teams, and tournaments. The Perfect Storm’s founder, Scott W. Keith of Falls Church, said that his team made it all the way to the championship game in just its first year, and he anticipates similar successes for the second year. In addition to fostering teamwork and exercise, The Perfect Storm program is based on principles of determination, preparation, and reaching new goals for its participants.
Registration and tryout for fall leagues are underway. Online registration and more information may be found at www.pbsl.org. Payment assistance is available for those who would have difficulty paying the fees. The Perfect Storm has partnered with the Pioneer Baseball Softball League, a member of the Pioneer League, a recreational/ instructional league.
Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church has a long and positive history of addressing the Northern Virginia community’s health care needs, and a recent report card issued by HealthGrades, a leading independent health care ratings company, continues the good news. This summer, Inova Fairfax Hospital was named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals, as well as ranked in the top 5% of hospitals in the nation for treatment of both stroke and spine surgery. Inova Fairfax was ranked best in Virginia for treatment of stroke, and among the top five in Virginia for overall cardiac services, cardiac surgery, and vascular surgery. Inova Fairfax Hospital also received 11 Five-Star ratings in a wide variety of health care services, including treatment of heart attack, stroke, and pneumonia. Fairfax County and Inova Fairfax Hospital have a long partnership, dating back to the mid-1950s when the original hospital building was constructed on land owned by the county. Three members of the Board of Supervisors serve on the health system’s governing boards.