What’s the Meaning of Labor Day?
I originally wrote this post about Labor Day back in 2014…when my girls looked so much younger…and I thought it was worth a re-post this year.
To be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood the meaning of Labor Day…I’ve always just thought of it as part of a 3-day weekend and the marker to the end of summer. And actually, I would often have to pause to really remember if it marked the end or the beginning of summer…knowing that Memorial Day was at the other end.
Regardless, curiosity and a bit of guilt pushed me through my lazy understanding of Labor Day and got me to do some research and further consideration of a day that certainly meant more to others in the past than it did for me today.
Here’s what I learned…
- In a nutshell, Labor Day is the “celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers” (Wikipedia). Basically, it’s a day when we should pause to appreciate the efforts of the “American worker”…on whose back our country was built and to whom we have much to thank for the economic, social, political, and educational advantages we enjoy today.
- Although Labor Day had already been celebrated by a number of states for several years previously, the 1st Monday of September became a national holiday in 1894.
- There’s some debate as to whom founded Labor Day…either Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire (no relation), but both were leaders in their respective labor unions.
- Oh…and you’re not supposed to wear white pants or seersuckers after Labor Day. Dadgummit!
So, as a daddy of two young girls, what should I get out of this…how should I redeem the intent and value of Labor Day for my family and me?
- If Labor Day meant very little to me as a 40-something year old guy who has been in the workforce for 20+ years, I’m certain it means absolutely zippo to my girls.
- I do need to appreciate that “labor” looks different today than it did back when Labor Day was established. And while labor isn’t as physical today for the majority of people, that doesn’t mean that we don’t work as hard as they did in the past.
- However, I feel that with all the advances in technology and the advent of social media…where you can make a living and have “friends” all while staying inside and hardly moving a muscle…it’s critical that Britt and I teach our girls the value of working hard physically…pushing themselves through their blood, sweat, and tears:
- Having them work on a project that they can touch & feel…seeing it through from the beginning to end, will create in them a sense of accomplishment and allow them to take pride in their work…what they’ve done…what they’ve built.
- This and placing a premium on productivity will go a long way in combatting the passivity and sense of entitlement a number of younger folks appear to suffer from in today’s culture.
- Helping them appreciate those who do work hard physically for a living…especially if they end up working in an industry that doesn’t require that, will make them more gracious, appreciative, and understanding members of the workforce.
- Working with your hands often requires working with others…so presenting our girls with these types of opportunities will help them work on teams, appreciate what others bring to the table, and help develop their general interpersonal skills.
- And not to mention, quite a few studies have shown that breathing fresh air and getting your blood flowing is a really good thing.
So this Labor Day weekend…in the midst of all the picnics, football games, barbecues, and end-of-summer-pool-parties, let me challenge you to consider and appreciate those men and women who worked so hard to afford us the blessed lives we lead today.
And if you’re a parent…let me challenge you further to try to think of ways you could help your kids get their hands dirty and work hard towards something…so that they too might be able to appreciate Labor Day now and in the future. This will require a bit more intentionality, as well as doing whatever you need to to get everyone to put down their devices.
But if you do, I’d venture to say that you’ll be making it more likely that they will be more productive, more responsible, and more engaged in whatever lives they lead once they are on their own. And as a parent, there are few things that are better than that.
Take Care & Happy Labor Day!
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