Monday, September 04, 2006

What Did Labor Ever Do To Deserve It's Own Day?

The answer would seem to be "not much" by reading the opening paragraph from the US Dept. of Labor

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "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."
The origins and reasons seem very mundane. A holiday for everybody and nobody.

A bunch of people thought it would be a swell idea to give workers a day off and decided that Tuesday, September 5, 1882 would be a good day for New Yorkers to celebrate. And in 1894 the US Congress made the first Monday in September a holiday.

Ho-hum.

I'm sure the details behind those boring facts weren't so boring. But right now Labor Day seems to be the day of picnics and mourning the end of summer. We could all just nap through it without a twinge of regret.

But isn't, or shouldn't, Labor Day be the day we are reminded that the laborer is more valuable than the labor or the profit gained from those who labor? Shouldn't we remember that "It's not personal, it's just business" can be a handy excuse for exploitation and negligence?

Think about the 4th of July and the importance some members of Congress have put on how people treat the US flag. Destroy a flag and many members of Congress believe you should be a felon.

Where's the proposed constitutional amendment to protect the safety of all workers?

AWOL.

Because of that we should dedicate part of this Labor Day to treating all those who do the labor better than we treat the symbol of our country. A country that truly honors and respects only it's symbols becomes a country that fails to live up to it's symbols.

And that's a desecration far worse than what's done by a protester burning a US flag.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   0 comments links to this post

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