Many will be using this Labor Day as an extra day off to spend more time with their families in the backyard or local park around the barbecue with ice cold refreshments, laughing and trying to shake off that last bit of anxiety before heading back to work after the long weekend. There’s nothing wrong with that.
We are fortunate that we live in a civilization advanced enough to recognize the need for reflection beyond that in which we engage on the usual Sunday.
One product of that reflection is the recognition of the major goals we have already achieved: personal rights, days for family obligation, sick-time, fairer wages and a voice in the unions.
Our victories are all the more profound when considered against the backdrop of our origins. There is an old immigrant parable that states, “I came to America because I heard that streets here were paved with gold. When I came I learned three things: First, streets in America are not paved with gold. Second, streets in America are not paved at all. Third, I am expected to pave them.” The parable expresses the disappointment and self-realization of the immigrant experience. But it is also is the story of hope re-actualized – when there is a realization that work needs to be done to keep that hope alive.
At the beginning of our labor section we quoted Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor: “Labor Day differs in every essential way from other holidays of the year in any country…Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation.” It is devoted to the part of the idea of the American Dream. It is a “workingman’s holiday,” Gompers wrote.
So, as we celebrate Labor Day. Let’s also toast the generations who came before us who helped create and protect the umbrella of freedom and opportunity under which we now thrive, and let’s resolve to keep their vision alive and well.