Today is Labor Day and my Grandfather’s 90th birthday. For me, I’ve loved digging deeper into these two events. The foundation of celebrating Labor Day has some debate about the details surrounding the origins, but one thing I’ve read over and over is that historians credit the creation of the Labor Day holiday to Peter McGuire, the son of Irish immigrants and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, and Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York and organizer of the nation’s first Labor Day parade in New York City on the first Tuesday of September 1882.
Labor Day became a national holiday when President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday. Since the holiday honors American Workers, it’s natural to think about the many immigrants, like my grandfather, who have shaped our nation.
My Grandfather arrived in the United States in 1959 and he worked at Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital in Niagara Falls, New York. He came straight from India in a suit with one suitcase and began working as a pediatrician after attending medical school in India.
In New York State today, there are more than 4.4 million immigrants making up about 22% of the state’s population. Immigrants are still an important part of our country’s workforce. According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, there are over 8.8 million jobs still vacant. These opportunities are available, for all Americans, natural citizens, refugees, asylees, and immigrants alike.
This is a recent picture of my Grandfather celebrating his 90th birthday with his children and grandchildren.