Labor Day is Monday, 5 September 2011. But the Labor Day Weekend has already started, signaling for most a time of rest and relaxation. As a holiday, Labor Day was first celebrated in New York in September 1882. Then, in 1894, President Cleveland turned the day into an official national holiday in response to some deaths of workers by the hands of police and military during the resolution of a labor strike. In response to the potential of more strife, Congress unanimously passed the proposal into law in a mere six days. Imagine that!
According to the proposal for the first celebration, parades and speakers would exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor unions.” Eventually all workers were honored by this day, not just union members. And those workers are everywhere. They may not all be great, but they are there. Even if you complain about poor service, long waits or non-responsive attitudes in the workplace, you still value those workers out there with whom we interact as we live our lives: teachers and day care works, gardeners and maids, gas station attendants and waitresses, military personnel, stay-at-home moms/dads and entrepreneurs, babysitters and lemonade stand owners, farmers and mechanics, computer geeks and programmers, carpenters and plumbers, production workers and managers, bank tellers and finance advisors, medical personnel and firefighters, store clerks and service providers, even lawyers and insurance agents and administrators and politicians. The list could go on and on.
We like to have services available 24/7 and to be able to order most anything online and have it appear at our doors within a few days. We trust we can call 911 and get a response or get help during a traffic accident. We appreciate being able to drive-thru so very many fast food places, often late at night. We complain about the cost of gas and unsavory interactions with car salesmen, but we love the variety of cars we can buy and that gas stations are found on so many corners. All of those conveniences require workers!
This year, with ongoing budget woes, high unemployment rates, and attacks on unions across the land, it seems especially important to remember that this holiday is more than the end of summer and the start of football season. This year, while you celebrate, take a minute to say THANKS to all those workers who make our lives a little bit better! For me, the surgeons who got me through 4 major surgeries will always be my heroes. But there is also the tow truck guy who waited to make sure the place could work on my car and then drove me to my hotel. The mechanic who fixed something simple on my car that was making a huge noise and just said, “No charge. Have a good day!” I could name others, like the pizza delivery guy! Please share a little about some of the many workers you value and appreciate!
To help you celebrate, here is a great video to sing-along with: Dolly Parton singing the title song from the movie Nine to Five:
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If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here live a great streetsweeper who did his job well.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Far and away the best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing. Theodore Roosevelt
You’re only as good as the people you hire. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds