When I was a child, I didn’t understand the concept of Labor Day. My father worked all the time, and I do mean all the time. When I was very young he was a logger and by the time I was a tween (or preteen as we were called then) he operated a bulldozer. To this day, the smell of diesel and oil reminds me of him. But I digress. He worked seven days a week and the smaller holidays. Even on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter he could be found working on a piece of equipment.
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker. (U.S. Department of Labor)
My mother worked outside the home for a while, then became a stay at home mom until 1980, at which time she began raising poultry for a large company. Seven days a week she tended her flocks, basically chained to the farm. So, Labor Day was just another day in the life of the Frye household.
What I remember most about Labor Day while growing up was the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon (now the MDA Show of Strength). My cousins and I would try to stay awake all night to see celebrities, never realizing they kept teasing their appearance only so we would remained glued to the television. The next day, our favorite celebrities would be on the show and we would be fast asleep, or too cranky to enjoy it.
When I joined the workforce, Labor Day became a day of rest, usually accompanied by family and friends gathering at some point during the long weekend. I never felt like it was a day of gratitude for my contributions at work. Most of my employers deemed the holiday as an interruption of production. When I worked in the newspaper business, I had to work extra hard the preceding days to get that day off.
So, do you believe Labor Day is a tribute to the American worker? Do employers really consider their employees creators of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership?
What are you doing for yourself as a reward for your labor?