Today is Labor Day in the United States, the unofficial end of the summer season. Beneath the barbecues, furniture sales and endless traffic home from the long weekend is the meaning of the day: to honor the working people who make stuff happen.
I think of the construction workers who build structures, the staff who maintain those buildings, the machine trade workers who design, create and operate the equipment that makes everything run. I honor the teachers to try to keep our populace from being stupid, the cops who protect us, everyone in the food industries who keep us fed with food that won’t sicken us. And in case we do get sick: all medical workers. It’s no exaggeration to say we’d be dead without them.
We should also honor all who volunteer. Their time and efforts are worthy, though unpaid. I often wonder, though, if the work they do was once paid labor. These big-hearted people see a need and rush to fill it, but someone is benefiting from their generosity. I imagine lots of charities can afford to pay even a little for the services provided to them.
Currently, there are volunteers from all across the country, including my home state, helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. The need is tremendous. I do hope the recipients of all this love show some appreciation to the media, who make sure that those of us far away don’t forget and know how best to help. So yeah, this Labor Day let’s honor the media, who uphold our First Amendment rights every day.
Another brand of volunteer is the employee who works longer and longer days when the job starts to involve much more than they signed on for. The work of laid-off employees is distributed to the remaining colleagues who have no choice but to learn the new tasks. They’re not compensated for the extra work, but at least they get to keep their jobs, for now.
This is the Labor Day view you won’t see at parades and press conferences. This is real life. As the new school year begins, I hope students in all grades learn the critical thinking skills needed to learn and grow and, someday, become productive workers whom we can honor in Labor Days to come.