Labor Day

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What do you say about a holiday that celebrates working Americans with three days off from work?

Here is one tribute to the nation's workers, adapted from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Labor Day editorial last year:

While many Americans kick back and enjoy time off over this Labor Day weekend, there are numerous others for whom Labor Day means just another shift at the grill, the ticket booth or behind the wheel of a delivery truck.

Indispensable workers -- lifeguards, firefighters, police, nurses, doctors -- are, as usual, on duty and are duly appreciated for providing the services and safety necessary no matter what.

There are a host of others who make this holiday pleasurable. Without them, you couldn't get a short stack of pancakes with a side of sausage to fuel up for the lounge chair. Nor could you catch a matinee, stroll through a museum, pick up some steaks for a barbecue or watch a game on television.

At the outset, the holiday was envisioned as one purely for working people, bred by a group of New York City union laborers who on a September morning in 1882 gave up their wages to march around Union Square in support of the idea.

It was not until 1894, when President Cleveland -- hoping to tamp down hostilities prompted when he sent troops to break up a railway strike -- signed a bill passed unanimously by a Congress skittish about upcoming elections.

The holiday has evolved into a last-hurrah for the summer season and an occasion for retail sales.

Most workers go unobserved. They are invisibles, the people behind the scenes who make sure water flows from taps and sewage goes down the drains, who take reservations for restaurants, skim hotel pools.

Workers and the money they earn make the world go 'round. They deserve recognition this weekend, particularly since many remain on the job.

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