Labor Day is a time to consider our founding values

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

By Harold Keller

This weekend, we celebrate Labor Day.  It’s not Labor Union Day, Small Business Day, Industry Day, or Management Day – it’s Labor Day – to honor all Americans who labor to hopefully make this country a better place in which to live and, in doing so, promises a better life for their families.

The celebration of Labor Day was initiated in the U.S. in l882 by the Knights of Labor, who held a large parade in New York City.  In 1884, the group held a parade on the first Monday in September and passed a resolution to hold future parades on that day and to designate that day as Labor Day. Subsequently, other worker organizations began lobbying state legislatures to declare that day a legal holiday.  In 1887, Colorado was the first state to pass such legislation, followed by New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.  The U.S. Congress made it a national legal holiday in 1894, and Monday, we will again honor the working class, as we have over the past 100 years.

The Webster’s dictionary defines labor as physical or mental work, toil; that which requires effort for its accomplishments.  The same word is used to describe a woman who travails in childbirth – she labors to give life.

The first settlers in the country labored long and hard with only one common goal – to give birth to a new, free nation.  The early colonists fled England because they were not free.  Because of this unity, their efforts were not in vain.  They labored unselfishly and sacrificed to give birth to a new country.  Today, we have benefited from their labor and enjoy what is now known as “these United States of America.” 

America has come a long way since those early years.  Special interest groups and individuals have fought for their own personal agenda, with little or no regard for others.

Maybe, as we celebrate Labor Day, we should take time and reflect on the motives the early settlers had as they worked together to give birth to this country.

The analogy is much like the mother giving birth.  She so labors to see the fruit of her labor – a baby who, if cared for, loved, and nurtured properly, will mature into a productive, responsible person.

I think most people will agree that we have neglected this once great country that we were blessed with.  We have taken for granted what was freely given to us.  Selfishness, greed, and a desire for power have taken over our families, communities, government, and the workplace.  It’s time we reflect on what our founding fathers had in mind when they came to America.

Let us decide to have a rebirth in America and to continue the dream that was birthed over 200 years ago, which is, one unselfish nation, under a loving God, with conservative liberties and pure justice for all.

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