President's Perspective

A Labor of Love


We mourn the end of summer with a celebration of Labor Day. The recognition and appreciation that we shower on the workers of America this weekend are more important today than have been for a long time. This 2012 election season is brewing a storm to divide America over jobs and the economy, hinting that one's race, class, and gender distinguish him or her as a worthy or unworthy American. The messages are as crystal clear as the battle lines: public employees vs. private sector workers; stay-at-home moms vs. working moms; white collar workers vs. blue collar workers; immigrant and black workers vs. all others. Does any one find this crazy? My recent visit to Mount Vernon and the slave memorial on the estate of George Washington brought Labor Day into real focus for me. It reminded me about what we should be remembering and celebrating: 1) that America was built on the backs, blood, sweat, and tears of immigrants of every race, gender, class and place of origin; 2) each of us, no matter our status in life, bring amazing talents, skill and capacities to the ingenuity that we call America; 3) that all work has dignity and value whether paid or unpaid; 4) that all work should be paid and paid well; and 5) that rugged individualism is not limited to a certain race or class because survival skills are inherent to all of us. Perhaps most of all, Labor Day makes me appreciate that we are all in this together. Let's commit this Labor Day to continue to fight for an inclusive society, a stronger (and better) democracy and a more perfect union. Happy Labor Day!