Matt deGrood

By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be fresh off of the Labor Day holiday weekend. I, for one, will have spent the weekend out on the lake – grilling, reading and enjoying the end of summer.

As I prepared for the long weekend, however, I couldn’t help but think about the holiday’s namesake – labor. Compared to a day like Veterans Day, something about Labor Day seems harder to grasp in concept.

I know what a veteran looks like – I’ve interviewed them before, a few are friends of mine. A veteran is a distinct class of U.S. citizens and their numbers are limited. Most holidays function similarly in that they are dedicated to a very specific class of people, or one person. By comparison, most of us of working age are, in theory, a member of that labor class from which the holiday takes its name.

Yet, when I think of the mundanity of my daily existence – at least when compared to veterans, who might be called to sacrifice their lives on a daily basis – it’s surprising that we see fit to honor the many millions of workers like me.

Like so many other facts of life, the coronavirus pandemic has given me new perspective on the matter. Perhaps there is no better time than 2021 to spend some time reflecting on Labor Day, and the sacrifices and achievements of all of us in making this country a better place.

There are, of course, the easy examples. Whether it be the frontline medical workers who don scrubs and masks and enter into the line of danger each day to save as many people as they can, working countless hours and sometimes spending time away from family; or the people who work late nights restocking the shelves at your local grocery store – the pandemic has laid bare just how important each and every person is toward making the system run, quickly and efficiently.

But it’s not just those jobs that made headlines early in the pandemic that make a difference – it’s almost all of us. Within the pages of the Fort Bend Star just in recent months, we’ve written about the school district administrators tasked with starting classes again this year amid rising coronavirus cases, the contractors and those working in the home and business-repair industry who’ve worked through supply chain issues to keep buildings safe and secure and the leaders of churches across Fort Bend County who help residents with matters both spiritual and financial.

In coming weeks, I’m sure we’ll chronicle even more stories of businesses and individuals going above and beyond to help keep the system going.

The world of today is no less complicated than the most intricate supercomputer or watch – with hundreds or thousands of whirring pieces bouncing and clicking and interacting together constantly, any of which falling out of place could short-circuit the whole system.

We’ve already seen it so many times since March 2020. A chip shortage in Asia can lead to huge delays in building computers and cars in America. When restaurants and other businesses can’t fill open positions, those places must cut back hours or otherwise change operations.

Baked into the human brain somewhere is the idea that some jobs are more valuable than others. One need look no further than our salaries to see that, at the very least, the market has decided some should earn more than others.

Yet, for all of its many flaws, this country became a country on the idea that all people were created equal. Compared to our class-centric forebears in England, many came to America because of plentiful opportunity and the opportunity to advance ourselves economically. And, over our history, the biggest strides we’ve made have come when we’ve worked to live up to those immortal first words in the Declaration of Independence.

With this in mind, I think it’s well worth taking a moment of our time to truly celebrate us during Labor Days past and present. From the highest corporate executive down to the person who cooks your fries at Burger King – each of us matters, and each of us contributes to making this country what it is today.

And that, my friends, is something well worth celebrating. Happy belated Labor Day.

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