The Least Laboring of Days
By Will Durst
August 31, 2013
It was 1894 when Labor Day first punched into work. Grover Cleveland signed it into law six days after the end of the Pullman Strike, during which federal troops killed more than 30 strikers. Cynics saw it as a kind of make-up sex between the government and the American worker. Well, flowers and candy anyhow.
Labor Day Jobs
For 120 years, Labor Day has been the red-headed stepchild of holidays. As glamorous as the guy with a shovel following a mule in a parade. Something you roll out to get Child Protective Services off your butt. "Look, we gave you an entire day, now give it a rest, would you? What do you want, cake?"
Goldilocks would have loved Labor Day. Not too hot. Not too cold. Less incendiary than Easter and Christmas, but with a decidedly higher thermal print than the International Talk Like a Pirate Day, fast approaching on September 19. Hard to believe its time to dig out the eye patch, wooden leg and Jolly Roger. Again. Already.
The lazy, hazy days are over and school and football have kicked off. And this holiday Monday is but one final chance to party in the long light. Meanwhile, the significance of what we're commemorating has gotten lost in a last-gasp blast of beer, baseball and barbecue.
Labor Day is meant to be a day we set aside to honor not the dead, but the living. Our workforce. One single day off so the real nine-to-five heroes that keep this country humming can hang with their families and friends before squaring their shoulders and getting back to the job of earning a living and carving out the future. And maybe one day at a theme park on someone's 10th birthday without having to take out a second mortgage.
It's a day to catch our breath. To celebrate the contributions of all of America's working folk. From the floor of the stock exchange to the stockroom of Amazon. To recognize the pistons that keep the engine of this country pumping along. And no need to bring gifts, although that whole flowers-and-candy thing is never a bad idea. And maybe some chips and beer and what the hell... cake. Who doesn't like cake?
Copyright 2013, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate to paid subscribers for publication.
The New York Times says Emmy- nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today."