It’s easy to feel conflicted about Labor Day. The day off is nice and all, no question. But then again the holiday has a somber tone about it, since it has come to signify the unofficial end of the allegedly endless days of summer. Given that, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the day really celebrates a principle that’s key in Catholic Social Teaching: the dignity of workers and of the work that they do.
Once you finish putting your white shoes away until next Memorial Day, have a look at these few lines from Walt Whitman, courtesy of our friends over at the Poetry Foundation. They capture well the rich spirit–indeed the beauty–of this day when we honor all those who labor. From all of us at TJP, happy Labor Day!
I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission
or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.