Yes, I did it again. I appeared for two classes that weren’t
due to start until after Labor Day. But there I was again, clad in tennis wear,
raquet in hand, when the pretty security guard approached, “May I help
you?” Well no says I…I’m going…to
tennis class. The woman’s
expression of unqualified pity said it all. Her day had started with this encounter: an advanced case of
Alzheimer’s wandering campus in a fog if dementia. She didn’t utter a word, but
that look! I
realized. “Sir, you might want to check your schedule,” there wasn’t a hole
large enough nearby to stick my entire body within and hide.
“Thank you,” I said as she drove off. I had been so excited at taking advantage
of the opportunity to wear white for the last time before Labor Day. Yet there
I stood, the lonely duke, wondering what to do with the remainder of that fine
blue spirit-thrilling sky. It seems by the look of these continually chilly
mornings that the days of shorts and sandals, soft cotton Ts, lapping up rays
on the Eastern Shore are over.
This marks the official end of summer. Labor Day. A holiday
created to the memory of the American worker whose interests died years
ago, but a fitting way to
commemorate all the men and women (and tragically often children) who actually built
something of usefulness while
forging our great nation.
Those men and women and children who built most everything we take for granted:
roads, bridges, schools, parks, hospitals, and those who later worked under
oppressive conditions within the walls of American factories, farmlands,
endlessly toiling with dignity, integrity, tenacity and endurance all in honor
of making our country great. And
now, an all too often spoiled, thankless nation merely grills up some burgers
and opens a cold one whilst defending a freeze in the minimum wage as a threat
to consumer prices and boardroom profits.
Or maybe it’s just one more day where to not be inconvenienced by alarm
clocks, deadlines and meetings.
Some of you might find it within yourselves today to take a moment to reflect
on all the amazing things that the American Worker has created for your
benefit, enjoyment or safety. For a brief instant, be genuinely grateful.
Reflect this weekend on how you yourself might make a
quantifiable, palpable and worthy contribution in your community, school, local
hospital or nursing home. I especially ask this of the luckiest among you, the
ones who enjoy a cornucopia of freedom and privilege. There is nothing wrong in
celebrating good fortune, good health, the company of friends and family and a
shared meal - just remember it is an integral part of life, of living, of character to give something back to your town, state, country. From our earliest years we are trained
to win, to take, to be the best, but so rarely are we taught the things that
make victory, success and wealth worthy of us: compassion, kindness,
philanthropy, social responsibility.