If You See Somone Working, Say Thank You!

14687804116_c553cd4dc4_zIt’s Labor Day. I decided to post a few trivia questions about Labor Day to see if you could answer them or if you want to impress your kids, ask them the questions. I will supply the answers at the end of this column.

Who is considered the father of Labor Day?
When was the first U.S. Labor Day celebrated?

What country is said to have originated the idea to host a Labor Day?

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

What state was the first state to declare Labor Day a holiday seven years before the president declared it a national holiday?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answers. I am sure somewhere in the past I have heard the answers to all of those questions. I would imagine my history teachers when I was in school covered the subject of Labor Day. I wonder how many kids now know why we celebrate Labor Day. Do you suppose history in school covers this today?

I know we anticipate the holiday. Many years kids start school right after the Labor Day holiday. This year all my grandchildren started school many weeks before the holiday weekend, so this weekend is a break from school.

In Minnesota the state fair is on. The Renaissance Festival has begun and festivities abound celebrating the last fun weekend we have before we get back to the grind of normal life after the summer.
Labor Day started as a day to recognize contributions men and women made to the American workforce. In the 19th century, Americans worked 12- hour days, seven days a week. These workers wanted an eight hour workday.

Today we should also be celebrating the American workers. I doubt that the stress workers feel today is any less than those workers protesting when Labor Day was established. We have many people working for minimum wage, working long hours and intensive jobs for little pay, struggling to put food on the table. Because of technology many people are on call 24/7. They can’t get away from the office, and companies expect them to be there when they call. Eight-hour days are not the norm for many. And part of the workforce work two and three jobs to make ends meet.

Jobs are more diverse, and the factory jobs of the past no longer are as prevalent so more education is needed to secure employment.

We still need to celebrate the American worker because they are the backbone of America from garbage collectors to plumbers to doctors and lawyers to the clerk that hands you your coffee in the coffee shop. These people are all needed to make our society work.

So on this day, look around you and if you see someone working, say thank you. And then pat yourself on the back as you leave for work or as you are thankful you are retired from a lifetime of being one of the workers who makes our country run. This is your day. Thank you for what you have contributed.

1. Peter McGuire

2. Sept. 5,1882

3. Canada

4. To celebrate the American Worker

5. Oregon

Ask The Youngsters The Meaning of Labor Day!

labor dayLabor Day is celebrated the first Monday in September to honor American workers. It is a tribute to the contribution workers make to the strength and well-being of our country.  The first Labor Day was celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. In 1884 the first Monday of September was selected as the holiday. It is referred to as the “the workingmen’s holiday.”

There is dispute as to who the father of Labor Day is: Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Carpenters Union of the Brother of Carpenters and Joiners and also co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew McGuire, a machinist and secretary of Local 344 of the International Associations of Machinists.

As with so many traditions that we celebrate, the reason these holidays are celebrated is lost in translation. I wondered how many young people understood the reason for the Labor Day holiday. Many do not. To the younger generation Labor Day is the last hurrah before school starts, fall sets in and people get back into schedules after the summer. Many do not know why the holiday is called Labor Day.

Over the years there has been a big shift in our nation. Unions are not so prominent anymore. Factories and factory worker jobs have disappeared and moved overseas. Factories used to be part of the backbone of labor and provided good incomes for families. Factory workers were proud of their work.

My uncle worked for Douglas Aircraft Company starting somewhere in the 1940s. The company merged and became McDonnell Douglas in 1967. They were an aerospace company. My uncle and his co-workers were proud of their work and liked where they worked. He liked the working environment and felt the employees were treated fairly by the company. His pay was very good. He worked there from the time he was a young man until his retirement at the age of 55. The company had very good retirement benefits letting him retire early, a benefit for the hard work he had put in with the company.

We need to remember the reason for the Labor Day holiday. We need to teach our children the history of the holiday. We need to embrace the workers of America and that includes jobs that are not glamorous and sometimes are downright dirty.  We need to honor those who pick up our trash, clean our bathrooms, work in factories for low pay, take care of our children and our elderly, work at home-based businesses and work as CEOs of companies. We need to honor the police, the medical doctors, the teachers and whoever works to put food on their table, whether it is those who are wealthy or those workers who scrape to put food on their table. They all make up our great country of America.

Laborers today, whether they are a clerk in a store, a waitress or a company person, need to feel appreciated. I had a problem with book piracy on Amazon. I was impressed by the fast help I got from one of their employees by the name of Selene. I have never had a better experience anywhere, and it was because of Selene. I asked her if she liked her job. I knew the answer before she told me — it was yes. I already knew the answer because of her helpful and cheerful attitude. I could feel her smiling through the telephone. She is happy working for this company. It followed through to the service she gave me. She felt appreciated.

In talking to other workers at other companies, many were just happy to have a job. Some had a problem coping with the stress of their job because of bad management, a difficult boss and rude customers. Yes, folks, we as consumers can be a rude bunch, and we as bosses can be more concerned about the bottom line than our employees. We need to keep that in mind when we celebrate Labor Day. Being in the labor force is not always easy but people stick with it to put food on their table. Without the labor force our country would be at a standstill.

My uncle worked for McDonnell Douglas his entire working career. That doesn’t happen too often now. Companies aren’t always loyal to their workers, and workers aren’t always loyal to their company so the workforce is constantly changing.

On this Labor Day talk to your children about the value of the American worker and what they contribute to the strength of America. If you don’t know the history of the holiday, use your handy-dandy search engine on the computer for a quick history lesson. We can’t go forward with success unless we visit the past and know our foundation and what kept it strong. Thank you to everyone in the workforce today. You are a valuable asset to our country.

Teachers Matter, Thank A Teacher Today.

teachers photo: Teachers teachers.jpg

Column: Something about Nothing, by Julie Seedorf- Published September 1. 2014

Mrs. Lewis was my kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Weir was my fourth-grade teacher. Sister Mary Donald was my eighth-grade teacher in Catholic school. Mr. Schmidt was my history teacher my junior year in high school. Mr. Bailey was my speech teacher and drama adviser my senior year in high school. All of these people influenced my life in a positive way.

Long after I left kindergarten, Mrs. Lewis kept in touch. She was at my high school graduation party even though she lived in another community and had retired from teaching years earlier. Forty years after Mrs. Weir shared her knowledge with me and my classmates in fourth grade, I ran into this former teacher. She knew who I was and what I had been doing with my life. Sister Mary Donald, at a reunion of the Catholic school 35 years after my friend and I had spent our time in her eighth-grade class, shared with us that she prayed for us every day. Without telling her who we were, she remembered us.

Of course there are times when you wonder what they remember about you. Was it the fact you were a good student or the shenanigans your class might have played on the teacher? I didn’t ask, and they didn’t tell.

My son’s first-grade teacher on his graduation from high school presented him with a large piece of art he had made in her classroom. She had kept it to give to him 12 years later. She did this for other students, too. Teachers care.

Today is Labor Day. It is a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. As with many traditions that are passed on from one generation to the next, we honor those traditions, but in the space of time perhaps the reason for the tradition is lost.

In our times we think of Labor Day as the last hurrah before school or the end of summer and the beginning of fall. That is why today I would like to write this column in honor of teachers who came before, and who now dedicate their time to shaping the lives of our next generation.

There is no doubt in my mind that many of the teachers I had during my grade-school years and my high school years have had an influence on who I have become today. Ask around and find out if any of your friends have teachers that influenced their lives.

If you think about it, our kids spend more time during the school year with their teachers and coaches than they do with their parents. How can that not affect their lives? Teachers are the people who educate and see that our children know what they need to know academically to carve a good future for themselves.

I can read. I can write. I can do math, though it wasn’t my teachers’ fault that I am a little challenged in that department. They couldn’t do everything, such as making someone that is totally uninterested in math, a math whiz. But because of them I can do the basic things I need to do to succeed in the world and in business. I also learned right and wrong from my teachers. They taught values and morals.

Tomorrow is the start of a new school year. I have not heard one teacher bemoan the fact they are going back to school. I hear excitement in their voices. Teaching in 2014 is not an easy profession. Not only do teachers have to take care of seeing that their students are challenged academically, but they also have to contend with more social issues, more state issues and a changing society where respect for those teaching our children is not always shown by students and parents.

Where would we be without teachers? We have lost many good teachers to jobs that pay more for their skills. There has always been the argument that teachers only work nine months out of the year. I am not a teacher because I chose not to be a teacher. I chose to work 12 months out of the year. We all make choices and if we did not choose that profession then we have nothing to complain about. If you have a teacher or a friend who is a teacher, you know the many hours they put in off the clock, preparing lessons that will make your child better equipped in the world today.

If we didn’t have schools and good teachers where would we be in our society? We would be a pretty uneducated bunch. If you are a teacher and are reading this, you don’t have to be a saint, but remember, for many students you are the adult who they look up to. You are the adult they spend many hours with. You are one of the adults in their lives who will shape who they are, and your example counts.

So, today, on Labor Day, if you know a teacher, say thank you. If you have a child in school, support their teachers. It takes a working team to raise our children to be responsible, literate adults in today’s world. Thank you to all teachers for your dedication, and have a great year