Our Voice: American workers should be honored on Labor Day

September begins with Labor Day on Monday, which means a day off for many, and ironically, more work for others.

The holiday started out in 1885 in communities across the country as a way to celebrate the American laborer.

It was acknowledged back then that the nation's economic success is dependent upon a dedicated workforce, and in 1894, Labor Day was declared a national holiday by President Grover Cleveland.

For many years, the celebration was a big deal.

Parades, festivals and picnics used to highlight the holiday. Unfortunately, that's not the case in most communities any more.

For many people, it has become a simple three-day weekend. It's a chance to give many employees a day off, and that's certainly valuable. But the true spirit of the day has gotten lost.

Somewhere along the way it has turned into a prime business opportunity. Consequently, the very people the holiday is supposed to honor likely will be the folks toiling this weekend instead of relaxing.

Labor Day sales usually draw in crowds of people looking for end-of-summer deals and who will spend a lot of time shopping and eating.

That means restaurants and shops will be working their employees even harder this weekend, as Labor Day traditionally is one of the most profitable times of the year for retailers.

It is also a popular weekend to travel, since many families like to get in one last trip before the demands of the school year take hold and limit their chance to get away together.

According to the AAA, about 34.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during this holiday weekend. If that estimate rings true, it will be the highest volume of travelers for the holiday since 2008, and a 1.3 percent increase over last year.

Such high consumer confidence is reassuring, and likely will translate to a very busy time for anyone working at hotels, tourist attractions and campgrounds. It is a safe bet state troopers and airline employees also will be kept hopping.

So, since there is no official Labor Day celebration in the Tri-Cities and so many people will be doing their jobs as usual anyway, we suggest a simple way to keep the spirit of the holiday alive: Make an effort to thank the workers you encounter this weekend.

Be kind and patient and remember to add to the tip jar if there is one. The waiter who takes your order and the convenience store clerk who takes your cash are part of a labor force that makes America run.

A dedicated work ethic is something to celebrate, and we should remember why we have the Labor Day holiday in the first place.