“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
― Francis of Assisi
Watching my mother paint colors onto a canvas, I see the face of my son begin to appear. She is an artist. Mr. Hatchett made beautiful wooden pieces with sometimes tiny inlays. He was a craftsman (and an artist). Men and women are working in the extreme heat to put a bridge over Broad Street in my town. They are laborers. All of these people work at their craft, their art, their job with determination, and for each I am grateful. It is no easy thing to move the equipment or pipes in the heat of the day. I know how hard it is to move just me in the heat in my yard. Monday will be a day of thanks, of recognition of the men and women who labor each day so that all of us can enjoy a better place to live. Looking around for those working with their hands, I know to whom I should give my thanks.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.~Dept. of Labor (On February 21st in 1887, the law was passed first in Oregon, declaring Labor Day a holiday.)
It is easy to be in a job and view other jobs as less important than your own. Oddly, most of our jobs are seen as lowly to someone else along the way. Every job matters, though, and so does every worker’s voice. What if you stopped for just a minute to consider the people you might think aren’t as important as you are and came to not only appreciate the immense contribution they make to your life, but also to our society and to the success of any community or country?
In a typical day, it goes like this (if this isn’t how your day begins, someone needs to help you make it so):
We wake up wearing our sleep clothes and in a bed. Someone made the fabric for the pajamas or gown, for the sheets and blankets, and for the pillows. With either cool air from air conditioning or a fan in the summer and warmth from a heater in the winter, we have many people to thank–from those who built the machines to cool and heat to those who provide the electricity and gas to make the machines do their job. We eat food that has come by way of a farmer and sometimes a person in a packaging facility. We brush our teeth with toothbrushes and toothpaste, rinsing with water from a faucet, typically. We walk or ride wherever we are going on roads built long before most of us lived here, by people using a lot of muscle and machines to make our daily trips a lot easier.
I never understood what a Union was when I was younger and didn’t see why they were needed, but as I grew up I recognized that a lot of people work very hard and have very little voice. Dr. Seuss taught me that when a lot of little voices come together, they can be heard, like in Horton Hears a Who: “We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts! So open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”
Every voice does count. We all need to be heard. To teachers and builders and plumbers and mechanics and carpenters and so many more: Thank you! Your voices matter. I’m so glad I learned. This holiday is one you have definitely earned.