Fruits Of Our Labor

When I was a kid, I thought Labor Day was dedicated to my mother and others who gave birth. But I was wrong, of course.

Labor Day is an oxymoron. While its title includes the word “labor,” Labor Day is one of the longest, laziest, laid-back days of summer. Go figure!

The national holiday was established by Congress in 1894 as a day to honor the American workers who helped build this country and continue to make it strong to this day. For as long as I can remember the holiday has been a day for public parks filled with kids tossing Frisbees and baseball on the radio as we picnicked in the backyard for the last big hurrah of the summer season.

Unfortunately there have been many issues that have befallen the laborers of this country since those early building years.

The powerful blue-collar unions of the working man have declined along with the population. The steel mills that employed the heart of middle America for so long are barely recognizable on the landscape anymore. Those talented men who walked the skyscrapers and massive steel bridges have a hard time finding steady work on those ledges.

These laborers gave us our backbone, built our infrastructure and strengthened our armies. They passed along work ethics and trade skills that have kept us from falling off the world’s economic radar.

However, for reasons that escape my comprehension, their efforts have not been protected. We (meaning our government leaders) decided to open the floodgates to world trade that has decimated our factories and work forces. We have cheapened the quality of so much in this country just to compete with the infiltration of even cheaper goods and workers.

My mother laughs at my sister Marilyn and me because we favor the old movies from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. We love how everything made in those days was practical, had a purpose, was American made. Life was simpler and wholesome. So many of the movies told real stories of life in those days. There were trying times as well as the glory days after World War II that saw this country rise to the top of the world like the cream that was delivered in glass milk bottles.

Homes were furnished with items built by people you knew. The food placed before your family was grown or raised down the road. It was served on dishes made just across the river. Labor Day is still dedicated to the working man and woman, but there are far fewer filing income tax forms each year. So do we rest on Labor Day or work even harder to keep ourselves afloat?

I will take my cue from a higher source who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Enjoy your Labor Day, maybe a hotdog on the grill and put your feet up. You earned it.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at