Labor Day weekend marks the typical sign that vacation is over and it’s time to get back to business. The “lazy” days of summer are over, and school will start again. This year, the return to school is very different and varies from town to town. Even with the challenges we are facing, Labor Day weekend is a time to pause, relax, and reflect.

There are conflicting thoughts about who founded Labor Day, but the day is meant to pay tribute to contributions from the work force.  It became a federal holiday in 1894 and, during that time, U.S labor movements and unions pushed to get many of the benefits employees enjoy today, such as paid vacation, sick time off, and lunch breaks. Initial Labor Day celebrations often included parades and picnics, but more importantly gave workers a much-needed day off. At that time in history, many Americans worked 12+ hour days, seven days a week.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday pays tribute to workers because “the vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest product the world has ever known, and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.”

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This Labor Day, celebrated on Monday, September 7, is a holiday we should all celebrate to provide unwavering support to our labor force who continue to work through these challenging times. I am grateful for all essential workers who have been working to keep our communities safe, fed, and healthy. Our healthcare heroes have been amazing, putting their own health at risk to take care of patients. Our teachers are working hard to deliver remote learning curriculums, while keeping our students engaged and excited to learn. Other essential workers include grocery store associates who continue to keep our shelves stocked and stores open. First responders, police, and mail carriers have also been out serving the public throughout the pandemic.

As we continue to grapple with the impact of a pandemic, the world still goes on and workers need to get their jobs done. Whether virtually or in-person, our workforce has been finding new and safe ways to do their jobs and continue to contribute to our nation’s strength.