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The first Monday of September is Labor Day in the United States and Canada.
Until recently, I did not realize that Canadians and Americans celebrate this observance simultaneously. It would be well if all nations did the same because everyone who works should be recognized for what they do and remembered in our prayers.
Unfortunately, some of us might not know this. In many countries, slavery is still openly practiced so we who willingly work should be grateful for our freedom to choose what we do.
In fact, although many people also might not know this, there is even “underground slavery” in our country through illegal trafficking and prostitution. If anyone doubts this, please do an Internet or a library search.
Slavery is a hateful word, but unfortunately it has been condoned and practiced for countless centuries in countless places.
The Civil War ended legal slavery in our country, but it still remains in clandestine ways.
Labor willingly done, however, is a blessing to ourselves and others, whether with compensation or not.
As mentioned in a recent column, volunteers are a mainstay in America and need recognition, too. Labor Day reminds us of this.
When checking a dictionary for the word “labor,” we can find many definitions ranging from physical or mental exertion to a specific task or job or the pains of childbirth. We know that labor can be recognized as easy or difficult, methodical or erratic, skilled or amateur, supervised or solitary—and in countless other ways.
We are especially blessed when we can say ours is a “labor of love.”
For instance, during and after a successful career, my husband has been the assistant chief mechanic and certified railroad engineer at the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville, Ind.
As a volunteer, this is his passion, although he also is a baritone with the Indianapolis Maennerchor, which was founded in 1854 and is the oldest male chorus in the U.S. And he still enjoys photography. I can attest to the fact that these activities take the bulk of his time and energy, but are “labors of love.”
Having a passion for a particular type of work, whether being paid or as a volunteer, is more than a blessing. It is a way of life.
The real purpose of Labor Day, however, is mostly to recognize those who keep our nation’s economy perking on all four burners through their employment.
Yet, every family, all priests and nuns and parish employees, every school and university, every hospital and all medical personnel, and every dedicated man and woman who is in the work world should be honored on Labor Day.
However, happily, Labor Day is also a day of rest. May we enjoy it in a leisurely way no matter what we are doing.
(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †