A Day to Remember the Privileges and Benefits of Work

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Labor Day: A Celebration of Work and the American Worker

Labor Day is just around the corner. Children are heading back to school and temperatures are starting to fall. Because of this many people use Labor Day as an opportunity to celebrate an unofficial end to summer.

Like many holidays, we often celebrate because we get a day off from work, not knowing the significance or true meaning of the holiday. Labor Day tends to be a holiday many do not know much about. Why should we celebrate Labor Day and the work we do each day?

Why We CelebrateLabor Day

Labor Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is a day to honor the contributions of American workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.

The history of Labor Day dates back to the late 19th century, when the labor movement was growing in strength. In 1882, the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor organized the first Labor Day parade in New York City. The parade was a success, and it inspired other cities to hold their own Labor Day celebrations. In 1887 Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday.

A few years later in 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making Labor Day a federal holiday. By that point, thirty states in the United States officially celebrated Labor Day.

The Sunday before Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday in 1909 by the American Federation of Labor convention. They dedicated this day to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

Today, Labor Day is a day to reflect on the importance of work and the contributions of American workers. It is also a day to celebrate the achievements of the labor movement and the progress that has been made in improving working conditions.

The labor movement has played a major role in improving working conditions in the United States. Through strikes, protests, and other forms of activism, workers have won higher wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions. The labor movement has also helped to protect workers' rights, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Why Our Work is Important

Having a job or career can provide satisfaction by allowing you to make meaningful contributions, and to allow you to provide for yourself and your family.  As Martin Luther King said,

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

Increased self-esteem is also a byproduct of working. It gives you something to take pride in as well as opportunities to increase various skills and knowledge. This helps to enrich your life and the lives of people around you.

No matter how small the work you do may seem, it benefits you and everyone around you as you work towards common goals and the improvement of the world we live in.

Some people may worry that they are not skilled or smart enough to contribute--but I have noticed in my 30-year career that our success if affected more by grit than having a high IQ,  great skills or talent.

Grit is your determination to put in the effort, believing that failure can be overcome. It’s a willingness to conquer challenges instead of avoiding them.  

“GRIT is that mix of passion, perseverance, and self-discipline that keeps us moving forward, in spite of obstacles” says Daniel Coyle, author of The Little Book ofTalent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite poems from an unknown author. I feel it sends a strong message that resonates with the Labor Day holiday.

“Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you; Beginners are many, but enders are few.

Honor, power, place and praise will always come to the one who stays.

Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you; Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it, too;

For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile will come life’s victories after a while.”

—Author Unknown

In the 1860’s, Francis Galton suggested in his book, Hereditary Genius, that over achievers are “remarkable in three ways: they demonstrate unusual ‘ability’ in combination with exceptional ‘zeal’ and ‘the capacity for hard labor.’”

When we combine our talents with passion and hard work we can accomplish things beyond our wildest imaginations.

Let us all celebrate Labor Day by honoring the work of American workers and reflecting on the privilege and blessing to live in a country where we are free to labor in whatever work we choose. Let us remember that no labor is in vain, nor is it worthless. Our labors bring lasting value to those that we serve – let us serve with honor and excellence!

Here are some ways to celebrate Labor Day

  • Attend a Labor Day parade or festival
  • Learn about the history of the labor movement.
  • Volunteer your time to a labor organization.
  • Support businesses that are owned by workers.
  • Reflect on the importance of work and the contributions of American workers.

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