Wikipedia tells us that Labor day is “a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September, honoring the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.”
What Labor Day has become is Memorial Day’s bookend, the unofficial end of summer, one of the last great cookout days, the first great sale day of the fall, and a day where, if you look around, there are an awfully lot of people working.
Born from the Industrial Revolution and the rise of unions, Labor Day was meant to pay homage to the worker, and what better way to do that than with a day off? But according to one report, 41% of employers will have people working on Labor Day. Think about it. Every restaurant, every gas station, every drug store chain, every department store will be open. Home improvement stores? Open. Electronics store? Open. Because, well, we’re going to need to buy stuff. On our day off. From people who are working. On Labor Day. Oh, the irony.
Of course, there are lots of other people who are working: nurses and doctors (especially helpful for women who go into Labor!), police, fire, security, armed forces. The people who keep our water running and our electricity flowing and our internet humming. And some Realtors.
The men and women who toiled in the Industrial Revolution, and during the Depression and in the post-World War era, are the ones we think about when we think about who we’re honoring on Labor Day. They were the backbone of America. But today, it’s shifted. Our economy is driven more than ever by consumerism and the people working today are part of the backbone. They may not invoke the same lunch pail image as our grandparents, but we need them, and we’re glad they’re working.
When they say, “Have a good day,” even if it’s only by force of training, what if we take a moment to let them know we appreciate them. They certainly would prefer to be at home with their families, or out shopping and letting someone wait on them.
And if you are one of the people who has to work, we thank you.