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Labor Day Just Another Day for First Responders

Photo courtesy oxfordms.net/fire-department

By Alyssa Schnugg
Staff writer

On Labor Day, while most of Oxford enjoys a day off filled with backyard barbecues on the last official day of summer, it’s just another day for many local emergency responders.

Oxford Fire Battalion Chief Allen Brown has worked a lot of Labor Days.

“I’ve worked a lot of Labor Days, a lot of Thanksgivings, a lot of Christmases,” Brown said.

In the Oxford Fire Department, the firefighters work 48-hour shifts. If a holiday falls on your shift, you work.

“If there are two holidays, like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we split it between shifts,” Brown said.

Labor Day is generally one of the more quieter days for Oxford firefighters, especially like this weekend when the Ole Miss Rebels football game is out of town.

“Labor Day is pretty laid back,” Brown said. “We’re going to cook some stuff on the grills (Monday). It’s pretty much like being at home when you’re at the station anyway.”

The Oxford Police Department

Oxford Police Department’s Cpl. Scott Hollowell is working his first Labor Day today since being hired as a full-time police officer in 2014. He started as a reserve officer in 2013 and was recently promoted to corporal.

“It is just the luck of the draw on how the holidays fall and who is already supposed to work that day,” Hollowell said.

Hollowell said even though police work on holidays, they take pride in being able to serve the community on any day and the citizens of Oxford often show their appreciation.

“We have incredible members of our town that always think of us during holidays and know that we are away from our families, so they always bring us food or other types of things that makes us feel special, and we are very grateful for them,” Hollowell said.

Credit for the first Labor Day has been given to Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, for first suggesting a day to honor the country’s workforce.

However, some have claimed Peter McGuire, a machinist, founded the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, which adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on Feb. 21, 1887.

During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy is on the clock for just about holiday throughout the year since being voted into office in 2009.

“I don’t ever ask my deputies to take a call on a holiday so they can enjoy the day,” he said.

Kennedy said Labor Day, even for those who work, is a much-deserved acknowledgment for hard-working people who serve Oxford and Lafayette County each day.

“Let’s not forget the law enforcement and fire service,” he said, “the guys running the sanitation route, the nursing and medical professionals and all other professions who must carry on as usual in spite of holidays.”

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