One day many years ago, I was going through some old files at work and came across one labeled “Women in Labor.” It caught my eye, mainly because I was pregnant with my first child at the time.

The file had nothing to do with delivering babies, however. At the time, I was working in the Communications Department of a labor union, and the file was part of a collection of research and background information on stories for articles and newsletters on different aspects of people in the workforce.

That popped into my head recently, as we started preparing for the Labor Day weekend. So did thoughts of Labor Day celebrations and events when I was growing up. In my hometown, “Keepataw Days” was celebrated every year over the Labor Day weekend, with a carnival set up across several blocks of Main Street, and a big parade on Monday afternoon. I was in the marching band from sixth grade through high school, so I was a part of the parade for a number of years. One of the things I remember most is how hot it always was, with all of us sweating profusely in our heavy band uniforms. What I remember even more is how proud I always felt when we played a John Phillip Sousa patriotic march, and out of the corner of my eye I could see all the people who stood and saluted as we marched past them with flags held high.

Like Memorial Day and Independence Day, there’s a deeper meaning to the holiday of Labor Day. It isn’t about picnics, parades, and parties, or the fact that here in the United States, Memorial Day and Labor Day represent the unofficial start and end of summer, with Independence Day – the 4th of July – right in the middle, give or take a few weeks. Still, it’s the picnics and parades that many of us focus on the most during these summer holidays.

That’s all different this year, of course. And on this Labor Day, which is a holiday to honor and celebrate American workers, the lives of most workers – and everyone else, for that matter – are very different than they were a year ago, or at any time in the past. The same goes for the way we are celebrating the holiday. Although many people are traveling and getting together with family and friends, many others are staying close to home, and doing the social distancing that is still recommended for fighting the coronavirus.

However you are celebrating – or not – and in whatever you are doing in honor of the Labor Day holiday and weekend this year, I hope you are staying safe, as well as enjoying the fruits of your labor.

September 5, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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