Sure am ‘HAPPY to be LABORing toDAY’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2010

A political cartoon that I recently saw really struck home and is fitting as we approach the first Monday in September.

The drawing depicted a caricature of an employee working late, sitting at a desk behind mountains of work yet to be done, reading about the rash of layoffs that have devastated our country over the past year and a half.

The word balloon coming from his mouth said, “I’m just HAPPY to be LABORing toDAY.”

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Those seven words seem to perfectly capture the sentiment of most people as the economic rebound plods along at a snails pace.

Hard work helps create its own opportunities but there are millions of Americans who have done everything they can but remain unemployed.

Many people who were once dissatisfied with their jobs are now just thankful to be among the ranks of the working.

I don’t fall completely in that category because I love my job — at least most days. I am certainly thankful for it this Labor Day.

Also, as someone who manages more than 20 employees I am thankful for each and every one of them. These men and women put their talents to work every day and are the lifeblood of The Tribune.

This is no different at every other business — from the smallest family operation to the largest corporations — in America.

Hopefully all employers will take a few minutes this Labor Day to appreciate their employees.

Labor Day is sort of a shadow of what it was created for and probably doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

Now it is mostly just looked at as the end of summer, associated with backyard barbecues, retail sales and a fashion faux pas.

The first Labor Day was Sept. 5, 1882, in New York.

The holiday was essentially recognized nationally in 1894, largely for political reasons.

It became a national observance partly because President Grover Cleveland was looking to appease union groups after a disaster that became known as the Pullman Strike.

A dispute between labor groups and a railroad company, the strike resulted in the death of 13 workers at the hands of U.S. Marshals and the National Guard.

Cleveland worked to smooth things over quickly and pushed for the national observance of the holiday that had already been embraced by several states. The interesting part is that it took Congress only about six days to rush the law through. Congress can’t decide if the sky is blue that quickly today.

Although Labor Day may not get its due from most, the U.S. Department of Labor remains among the strongest advocates for the holiday and those it honors.

“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy,” stated a summary of the holiday on the DOL’s Web site. “It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”

And that is something on which everyone can agree, regardless of how you choose to celebrate it.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at