Labor Day and 9-11. Two days in September with roots a century apart, yet both help define who we are as a nation; where we came from, where we are heading and how we can come together to advance the common good of our country.

Labor Day, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor is: The first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. It’s origins begin as early as 1882 and it became a federal holiday in 1894. In addition to its status as a three day weekend and the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day has some fairly deep significance regarding our progression as a society and a nation.

We were advancing from the norm of sweat shops, seven-day work weeks, child labor, and reducing the large gaps from the elite wealthy ruling class and the masses of citizens and their harsh lives. It was the first time our nation meaningfully recognized that it was the workers that were building the nation and making us great and that a move away from a feudal-style society to one were what was best for the good of all truly meant the good of all. Packaged with this movement were a host of other pluses: the norm of a five-day week, workplace safety, the ability to have grievances heard, legal parity and more. In fact it became the hallmark and standard for our next century of growth. All economists typically agree that what’s best for the middle class is what’s best for the economy.

Sept. 11. It’s hard to say that without getting some fairly powerful emotions on a multitude of levels. Within every tragedy lies opportunity. While we can never make sense of the evil and hateful acts of terrorism, we can reflect on how it shown us just how great this country is. People of every social class and walk of life pulling together to selflessly help their fellow man. Difficult dialogues and different views and interpretations of freedoms, rights, religions — often divisive topics — were set aside to make room for us to pull together as a nation. The attacks were by enemies from outside our borders, creating a “them versus us” mentality which strengthen our sense of “us.” And it wasn’t an attack on billionaires or any elite group, the victims were the common folks of this country, people at work, our middle class primarily.

The middle class this nation was built on has largely progressed, despite ups and downs, as our nation has grown. We worked for, and rightfully deserve, our time off and freedoms. Time to travel, time to relax, time to be with family and friends. We worked for this, and nobody will take it away, not terrorists, not an archaic ruling class. Celebrate this earned right. Travel and enjoy.

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