2009-09-02 / Editorials

Labor Day Marks End Of Summer

Although autumn officially begins on September 22, on this coming Labor Day, Monday, September 7, all of us who can will gather with friends and families and fill highways, parks, beaches and backyards for a final fling to mark the season's last holiday and the official, if not the actual, end of summer 2009. We hope all our readers had a good summer and that the coming autumn brings all the exciting possibilities that its promise of renewal holds.

Labor Day puts a period, in some cases, an exclamation point to the end of summer. It is unique among the days to which we have assigned some reason or other for holding some kind of celebration. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation," Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor declared in 1910. He was right. Labor Day honors the idea that a person's life work, whatever it is, defines and ennobles the person who engages in it.

We would do well to remember that on this Labor Day, as on many of the Labor Days that have happened since then President Grover Cleveland signed the legislation creating the holiday in 1893, a sizable phalanx of the army of those engaged in gainful employment will not celebrate the holiday. Transportation workers, healthcare workers at all levels of responsibility, police, firefighters and others whose duty lies in protecting the public safety never take a day off. They are by no means alone. Restaurant wait staff, ticket takers at movie cinemas and amusement parks and others, to name just a few, are among those whose efforts continue year-round. All across America, millions of people get up every morning, go to work, whatever their work may be, and come home at night to the homes and families who provide the motivation for their doing what they do. They may love their jobs or hate them, find their work fascinating or mindbogglingly dull, but whichever it is, they show up. The American workforce is, indeed, an army of unsung heroes.

This Labor Day, we like to think that, amid all the shopping, barbecuing or whatever other activities will occupy us on the last holiday of summer 2009, we will take time to give the American workforce at least a passing thought. We should give ourselves a round of applause as well. All of us who go to work and do our jobs, difficult or easy as the case may be, like them or loathe them as we may, are part of the fabric that makes America great. On this Labor Day 2009, we salute all American workers—all of us.

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