Labor Day is a great day to take a break, enjoy a three-day weekend, and maybe enjoy a drink while mourning the passing of yet another summer. Labor Day is also a day to pause to think about how much better Americans' lives are because of the labor movement in America. Thanks to the miracle of education, I went from being a hillbilly to being an overeducated hillbilly. By virtue of a some fancy pieces of paper, I suddenly had job options beyond farming in the Ozarks or working construction. I did plenty of manual labor growing up and on my way through college; I've honestly been covered in more pig shit than most people have ever smelled. Upon graduation, though, I passed through the veil from the land of those who shower after work to those who shower before work. There's honor and dignity on both sides of the veil, but I'm here to tell you: life is a hell of a lot easier on the side I now inhabit, not the one I came from.
I only got the privilege of getting an education because my great-grandparents decided that some branch of their family tree was going to have a better life. Grandpa joined the Teamsters, and together he and Grandma put part of those union-wages away to send at least some of their grandchildren off to college. That started the wheels of fate machine turning, and now you have me here blogging at you across the interweb.
It's dangerous to romanticize the past, and I know my great-grandfather was no saint. Still, I believed him when he told me about the working conditions he had endured. I felt the injustice of him being swindled out of wages he had earned by a wealthy man in town. I appreciate what he did for me down through the years. He and other men and women worked hard to make our country a better place, and a fairer place.
On this Labor Day, remember those who labored to get us here.