Sparked by Words

Labor Day

When I was a kid living on Parkway Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey, all the capital city’s parades marched by my house. Brass bands played their instruments in flashy uniforms, tiara topped queens perched on festive floats, military regiments marched in stately uniforms, and the top-hatted mayor waved from the back seat of a convertible Cadillac – all of them strutted along the route. Horses too, the magnificent beasts without whose presence a parade is just the leftover straggle of a city garage sale.

I doubt I could tell the difference between the Christmas spectacle and the one for Labor Day, except one showcased Santa in a sleigh pulled by a fire truck (where were the reindeer?) and the other highlighted city workers marching beside their union alliances.

Labor Day is a public, federal holiday established to honor the contributions of the American labor movement. It promotes the prosperity and well-being of our country, supported by those who build, serve, clean, maintain, and defend the many enterprises that comprise the enduring and independent fabric of the United States. Their work is usually grungy, often dangerous, sometimes heroic, and rarely makes the nightly news.

I don’t know if Trenton’s parades still march by the house. The house is still there, Google Images showing it’s barely changed in sixty years. But producing a parade is a task requiring a monumental budget with minimal financial recoupment possible. It’s a traveling billboard, perhaps, advertising the best goods for sale, gambling on future purchase of products, city tax base growing among the ranks.

Maybe the Santa parade still treks along Parkway Avenue through the winter snow, but Labor Day? Most of those for whom the end-of-summer holiday was created will work on Labor Day. Holiday pay (yeah, nice, but still…) and no recognition are more the norm than processional exhibition for those who serve in the lowliest service jobs.

If you’re out and about today, smile big at the folks taking a day ON, not off, and leave an extra tip. It’s Labor Day and they’ve got work to do. Taking care of you and me. Here’s where I put my hand over my heart and give a nod of appreciation.

 

Just a Thought 49

 

Photo of Labor Day Parade, Buffalo, New York, circa 1900, courtesy commons.wikimedia

 

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Comments on: "Labor Day" (28)

  1. It is a really big holiday because Costco is closed!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Jenna Barwin said:

    Well said, Sharon.

    Labor Day is a day to remember all those in the labor movement who sacrificed and struggled so we could have five-day work weeks, medical benefits, minimum wage, vacations, etc.

    Unfortunately, some of those benefits have begun to fade for many of us. Laws favoring corporations have made it difficult for labor unions to organize and maintain the momentum, and the pendulum has swung against the worker in many industries that used to provide a good middle-class living, while the 1% continues to grow fat.

    Just think of the auto industry, with the CEO’s flying to Washington in their private jets to ask for a government bailout. Their standard of living didn’t dip because of bad business decisions–no, they took it out of the hide of workers.

    Okay, I know everyone wants to just enjoy their day off. But if we lose the meaning of this day, we’ll lose a lot more than a day off.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jenna. You’ve said much and implicated much more.

      Citizens United is one of the worst affronts to the one person, one vote concept of genuine democracy. It gives multiple votes to those who don’t need and don’t deserve any more power – those with lots of money. This country was won on the backs of warriors, built on the backs of laborers, and sustained on the backs of citizens, but the fabric of democracy is being shredded. Democracy must be earned in every generation – here’s to hoping the younger citizens of our country understand this and take it to heart. Labor Day will mean nothing if the labor of the common man is not recognized for its contribution to what makes this country truly great.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful post and sentiment. Labor day used to be a day off, but we have become so insanely commercialized; it seems as if many people are ON as well as OFF.

    I googled the parade and this is what I found. Last year was was the Sixth Annual Back To School Labor Day Parade. They sell $15 t-shirts with snacks and water. All proceeds going to help graduating students in Trenton. They even have a Pet Show where awards are given.
    Sorry, I couldn’t find any info on the route of the parade. It does start in downtown Trenton.

    Happy Labor Day. Thank you for the lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was (and still am) a public employee and loved these holidays. Never saw a Labor Day parade while growing up in the San Diego suburbs, but I bet they were something to see. All parades do now out West (as you probably know) is clog up traffic and irritate drivers, LOL! Hubby had to work this holiday since City swimming pools were still open. I even did some school prep for this week (might as well). Great tribute to the reason the day became a holiday, and I, for one, are thankful for workers’ unions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. coincidentally, was just thinking how I’d much prefer for so many reasons to have more parades & far less fireworks

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  6. For me, Labor Day has signified the end of summer. I know the calendar says it doesn’t end until the 20th or 21st but while growing up, the new school year began the day after Labor Day.

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  7. Thanks for your post, Sharon. I think most people don’t even know what Labor Day signifies, or the history of it. It’s just a three-day weekend signaling the end of summer and back to school. And back in my day, it meant putting away our white shoes and donning darker colors. Time for us to be reminded of its real meaning. Again, thank you!

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  8. First: Belated Happy Birthday, Shari! 🌹
    Around here Labor Day is at the first of May and a holiday too. Sadly it has become a day of vandalism and rioting in the cities and most people don’t go out then even though the weather’s almost always fine. Lots of people get hurt, properties and cars get their share and it’s all just terribly awful. The hooligans use this day out of spite for their cause – anarchy – and don’t give a damn for what it actually stands for. Efforts are made to change these things from happening and even if the day is calm there’s usually something going on at night. 😦

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    • Oh no! I had no idea Germany’s Labor Day is “celebrated” with such violent behavior. Shall I venture a guess that it’s mostly young drunk males, or am I wrong?
      Last night’s news here in California highlighted an incident about a large crowd of young people tearing up the streets with a huge brawl and attacking two officers, their vehicles and the men themselves, both of whom were injured. It seems these young thugs believe the validation for their behavior is in the fact that they draw attention to their wildness. No regard for safety, decency, the rights of other people, and certainly not for laws. Crowd behavior devolves too often into gang behavior. Very bad all around.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your guess is absolutely right, Shari! And I´m so sorry to hear about the two officers having been attacked like that. It seems to get worse everywhere. There has been a gang fight here in Berlin a couple of weeks ago, one of their leaders ended up dead. And my mum witnessed a kind of street fight between two gangs in broad daylight when she went shopping last week! It´s frightening and doesn’t at all sound like the city I grew up in…
        😦

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      • Parts of the world are always violent, people taking to the streets for personal grievance or political cause. Now it seems to be hair trigger attacks fueled by alcohol, drugs, and hormones. The kind of nasty behavior that used to be consigned to back alleys is now out on Main Street – with big crowds. I don’t want my grandkids growing up in this kind of atmosphere.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can understand, Shari. It´s a frightening thought to let our children and grandchildren into a world that seems to deteriorate more and more. We must all do what we can to stop this from happening and creating a world we can be proud of. Showing kindness and respect for each other are at the heart of this I think.

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      • Yes – but kids also learn from their parents, and that’s the beginning model.

        Liked by 1 person

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