I get Labor Day off every year. I have for the past thirteen Labor Days. I always feel a little uncomfortable having Labor Day off. There has only been a roughly nine month period of my life where I could reasonably describe myself as labor. And it wasn’t exactly hard labor. I was an hourly employee in a bookstore in my early twenties. I’m sure I worked that labor day, though. Soon after I became a manager and I’ve been working white collar, salaried jobs ever since I left the bookstore.
What I’m getting at is that every Labor Day I actually remember what the day is about, and it’s not about me. Every Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Fourth of July, we are bombarded with reminders to remember what those days are about. Sports leagues wear special uniforms and have all kinds of special ceremonies. Special programming is shown on TV. There are parades. Politicians give speeches. Those holidays are pretty unavoidable. I feel lonely remembering Labor Day, though.
It’s understandable that things are this way given the way of the world over the past forty-ish years. Labor has been under an unrelenting attack for most of that time. Even though it’s been bad for the economy and society as a whole, the attack just keeps coming. While there are some politicians who support labor, I don’t see things changing any time soon.
It’s sad that things have gotten this way. Labor Day is a worthy holiday. Labor is worth celebrating. Most of us who can be described as middle class are in Labor’s debt for that. Labor, much more than the military, is what made the American Dream a thing. So, in an effort to feel a little less lonely, I just want to ask people to take a minute on Labor Day to remember what the day is really about.