“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
On the first Monday in September, we celebrate Labor Day. This is a federal holiday set aside to honor the social and economic achievements of the American worker according to the Department of Labor’s website. It was first celebrated (unofficially) in September of 1882 by a parade in New York City. As more and more cities and states began officially recognizing the contribution of the American worker, with Oregon being the first state to pass a law recognizing Labor Day as a holiday, it was signed into law for the nation by Grover Cleveland on June 28, 1894. And so we celebrate Labor Day, a holiday set aside to honor and remember the contributions of the people who worked…hard…to build America on the first Monday every September.
This day also recognizes the work that Unions and other Labor organizations have done for the worker. Making the workplace safe and ensured that people were paid a fair wage they could and can live on based on the costs of living. The Labor Unions called out the practice of child labor and put our children…all of them…back into the schools where they could learn. Our standard of living has been raised to what it is today based on the efforts of the American Labor force. Especially those who saw things that were wrong and stood up for the rights, health and well-being of others.
The Labor Department itself, has been led by some pretty impressive individuals. According to the Department of Labor’s website, “Of the 29 men and women who have served as secretary of labor…William Wilson also wrote poetry, Arthur Goldberg served as both a Supreme Court justice and ambassador to the United Nations. George Shults also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State” (that is an impressive resume!) But I personally think Frances Perkins out did them all. She is the first woman to lead a U.S. Department, she advocated for a 40-hour work week and a minimum wage for all workers. But the coolest of all: She is a saint in the Episcopal church.
Today, on Labor Day, take a moment to say a prayer for the American work force as we say thank you to all those who work hard for a living by the sweat of their brow.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.