Labor Day…why do we celebrate? According to the US Department of Labor, this federal holiday was created by the Labor Movement in the late 19th century and became an official holiday in 1894. Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
That last part, “the well-being of our country”, rings so true. What would our cities, small towns, and rural areas look like if it wasn’t for the daily contributions of the average blue-collar worker? Our streets and highways would soon be impassable if the road construction crews quit showing up. What about the men and women who do maintenance on office buildings, shopping malls, hotels and hospitals? Without them, nothing would get repaired or replaced. What about the cashier at your grocery store and the guy who helps you at the hardware store? What about all those factory and steel mill workers who show up every day to produce American made goods, some of the best in the world?
What would our country look like without our hard-working garbage handlers, electric linemen, plumbers, painters and carpenters? It would be a mess. Without the daily participation of these laborers and many more, we could not function as a community, town, city, state, or nation. Everyone who works is important, but sometimes, we take for granted the everyday “average Joe or Josephine”. Some may discount their importance with a sniff, not considering what they do a profession and certainly they don’t consider theirs an artistic or creative endeavor. I disagree. If you think a carpenter, plumber, or painter can’t be creative, you haven’t watched one of them make an “impossible” patch or figure out a solution to a persistent problem on the spot. Creativity and artistic expression can blossom even on the factory floor, fast food restaurant or in a coal mine. What you do for a living is just one part of a person, not the whole. The next time you catch yourself looking past someone who’s working hard for a living, stop, smile, and thank them for what they do. We would all be the poorer without them.
That’s what Labor Day is all about…to remind us that everyone is important in our American economy, especially those often hidden cogs and wheels, the blue collar workers. So this Labor Day, don’t forget to raise a glass in honor of the workers who made America great and toast their efforts to keep America moving and growing.
Have a wonderful holiday!