Some Thoughts on Labor Day 2020

This morning the sky was a bright overcast, a perfect time for poking around the yard and taking pictures of small things. The flowers are definitely past their best, but there are a few bright spots here and there.

Perky Black-eyed Susans,

Asters, those stars of fall,

and bright wands of Goldenrod.

In the United States, today is Labor Day, which Wikipedia defines as “a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.”

I think of my Franco-American ancestors—potato farmers and factory workers—mocked and derided for being “dumb Frenchman.” In truth, these “dumb Frenchman” did much of the hard, back-breaking labor that kept Maine going. Why weren’t they respected for the work they did? Even today, the contributions of Franco-Americans are seldom acknowledged.

If we cast the circle wider to encompass other ethnic groups and workers—the ones who pick our crops, the ones who work in stores, the ones who bravely go forth during this pandemic so that we can eat and have the necessities of life—we see that the same sort of disrespect is extended to them. Somehow these workers are so lowly that they do not deserve a decent wage, health care, or affordable housing and transportation.

To borrow from my blogging friends across the pond, rubbish! Covid-19 has revealed exactly who is essential and who is not.

So on this Labor Day, and indeed on every other day, let’s honor the men and women who work so hard and get so little. And, maybe, just maybe, we can think about what we, as a society, can do to make their lives a little more comfortable.

And then put those thoughts into actions.




50 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Labor Day 2020”

  1. I love your phrase “bright wands of Goldenrod”, but I love your narrative about the importance of thinking about the plight of our workers – on the front lines and behind the scenes – on Labor Day even more. I assume your Franco-American ancestors were from Quebec or l’Acadie. Good stock! It is interesting that the world’s original ‘melting pot’ has always been so reluctant to welcome the newest ‘ingredients’ . But most importantly on Labor Day, and especially in this time of COVID, where we’ve been reminded time and again of how much we rely on those who make the least money and have no benefits, is your message about putting this right. Hear, hear!

  2. Well said Laurie, it always amazes me that those who have really done the hard work in building a country are Almost always migrants who are neither paid correctly or acknowledged for their hard labour.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Laurie. Any modern nation, especially if it claims to be a world leader, needs to acknowledge that housing, nutrition, healthcare, and education are basic human rights that we should strive to meet.

  4. Whole-heartedly with you Laurie.
    We humans have been given a huge opportunity for radical change for the better for humnity and the environment, but the wealthy seem to be clinging on to power and decisions based on greed.

      1. It certainly is – all I can do is do my best to vote with my purchases and where I put my energy. Years as an eco-warrior caused burnout so I am no longer able to get out there, but I can still do what feels right domestically and hope that there is a critical mass of like minds who will win through in the end. ❤

  5. Very true. If workers are deemed ‘essential’ in a pandemic they deserve to be treated and paid at least as well as those who are ‘non-essential but nice to have’!

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