Labor Day tends to be one of the forgotten holidays. It appears Hallmark has not sunk its talons into this one yet. It stands as one of the bookends of summer, the other being Memorial Day.
How is that both of these important holidays commemorating our country’s past and future have become overshadowed in a season of lemonade and swimming pools?
Every time these holidays roll by, there are exclamations of distress among some people that Americans today don’t understand why they have an extra day off from work.
These occasions honor sacrifices and advancements that were made so that members of modern society can simply lead their day-to-day lives.
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On Labor Day this year, I am in Florida celebrating my wedding with 118 of my closest friends and family. My father can have a day off and is not working long hours; my groom has earned respectful wages so he can afford this once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) event; and I am not working in conditions that put me in harm’s way.
While we celebrate together, we quietly acknowledge that we get to do so thanks to what this holiday stands for.
Labor Day has brought fathers home in time for dinner, taken mothers away from dangerous factories and kept children playing outside on beautiful days. It has brought the work-life balance to fruition.
Labor Day celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of the American workforce. It celebrates the fact that companies have moved towards fair and equal treatment of workers. Thank goodness we have graduated from an era when robber barons forced workers into awful conditions for low wages.
While today’s job search for millennials could use some work (shout out to my fellow comrades living at home or in a closet), the general protection of workers’ rights is honored.
I don’t think people intentionally ignore the meaning behind Labor Day, Memorial Day and other forgotten holidays. Most of the time, they just need more education.
But maybe the fact our society lives in a privileged bubble of ignorance is a testament to the continued positive effects represented by these holidays.
People can use Memorial Day to kick off summer and gather with friends for a barbecue instead of hiding out in bomb shelters during air raids on their country.
For some people, Martin Luther King Jr. Day may simply mark a day off from work and school; they don’t have to think twice about the blessings of sharing public services and resources with multiple races.
On the other hand, while May the Fourth is not set aside as a federal holiday to honor the sensational Star Wars saga, social media always explodes on that day with quotes and photos honoring the Rebel Alliance.
A large segment of the public can tie that day to a holiday highlighting a movie franchise and its cultural impact. Meanwhile, Memorial Day often gets confused with Veterans Day.
It’s OK to maintain traditions that may or may not actually link to the intent of the holiday, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the progress these occasions represent.
Memorial Day honors those who have served to protect Americans’ fundamental liberty and civil rights – in particular, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
MLK also made that sacrifice while fighting for equality, so that a person’s race would not dictate how he or she is treated or what opportunities are afforded. He made battling injustice a powerful force.
In a similar vein, Luke Skywalker reestablished the Jedi Order and inspired the eventual overthrow of Emperor Palpatine …
All joking aside, this country has a long way to go with regard to gender, sexuality, race and other civil rights. But it’s important to commemorate steps taken in the right direction.
These holidays are stepping stones marking the advancement of U.S. citizens.
As I write in support of education around forgotten holidays, however, I find it important to note there is one we can all collectively groan about, an observance we all wish to forget:
Katie Madison of Spanaway is a soon-to-be-military wife and one of six reader columnists writing for this page in 2017. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog kmadsblog.wordpress.com