Labor Day part of what makes us great

Labor Day is at least 126 years old, having first been celebrated by the Central Labor Union in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

There is some dispute over just who proclaimed the need for the first Labor Day, but one of the labor movement’s historic figures, Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, said in the 1880s that there needed to be a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

That quote is included in the U.S. Department of Labor’s history of Labor Day, and it is the most fitting description of what is celebrated today.

The day is inextricably tied to the labor movement, but it is about work, about the people who work. People in Trumbull County, with a strong work ethic, certainly can relate to that.

Today is for educators and truck drivers, coal miners and computer technicians, those who make steel and automobiles, care for the sick or ensure that we have electricity and running water. It applies to all, from white collar to blue collar.

Everything we have in this nation that is good and decent and basic to the quality of life that America has enjoyed since its beginning is the result of a dedication to hard work. From the farmers of the 1700s to the astronauts of the 21st century, people have strived for something better through the work of their hands and hearts and minds.

If we did not work, if we didn’t have the opportunity to build and make and achieve, then what kind of nation would we live in?

Jobs aren’t just something to be tossed about as an issue when we’re electing presidents, nor is their vitality to the national economy their only worth.

Americans draw their identity and the nation its very soul from the work it is able to do.

It is that spirit which is critical to the ongoing survival of the greatest free nation on the face of the planet.

It’s not Republican. It’s not Democrat. It’s not a matter of religion or race or creed.

The quality of work, the desire to achieve, the need to accomplish, is within each of us. It must be cultivated and nurtured and given the best possible chance to succeed.

It also must be revered, which is the reason to kick back for a day at the beginning of September each year and reflect on what it is we do each day, take a deep breath, and get back to it tomorrow.