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I’m feeling thankful for so much. Especially while so many people are still in distress due to Hurricane Irene. There is devastation just a few miles away from us. And in my beloved Upstate NY, Margaretville and Prattsville in the Catskills are both disaster zones.
I’m extra appreciative for modern conveniences: electricity, running water, sewers flowing in the correct direction. And I’m still counting our lucky stars that we had no storm damage. I’m grateful that our family (and extended family and friends) are safe and sound (even though some are still dealing with Irene in various ways). And I’m thankful to the workers near and far who kept us safe, cleared downed trees, restored power, and are busy fixing roads. Not to mention all the emergency workers, the life-saving police, fire departments, EMS, hospitals, etc. Workers are working hard to save/build/fix so we can go about our business in our supposedly modern world. And this is going on at a time when our unions are under attack and the average worker is trying to hang in there; feed the family, keep things afloat, head above water, and so on.
Max loves to be a “worker” copying us when we do work around the house, wanting to be involved. “I’m the worker!” Of course, 5 minutes of Max mowing the lawn, picking potatoes, or painting — gets old fast, and he drops the toy lawnmower/garden tools/paintbrush to do something else (running around in circles and hollering in his own language, for example). But, he still loves playing “worker.” He wants to be just like his daddy, THE WORKER.
Max has visited Andy at his job many times, and always loves it. His work area is plastered with Max’s face in pictures on every imaginable (and slightly cheesy yet adorable) item yours truly has bought for him for Father’s Days-past: a mousepad, mug, magnets, key chains, etc. I wonder when Max sees this, if he understands that his dad just loves seeing his face while he works. That it reminds him why he’s working, and helps him get through the day. There’s nothing like having a child to stay motivated (and dedicated) to work hard to support your family. It can be crushing when one is motivated, “ready, willing and able” but cannot find work.
With so many unemployed, underemployed, and in hardship all over the US, I thought I’d like to honor and celebrate the worker. So, this is my thank you to the worker! And also a wish and a hope for everyone that things get better and fast: For every man and every woman all over America who has lost their job, is looking for work, or maybe has given up hope and feels (or is) desperate. While we enjoy Labor Day Weekend, we can give big cheers to all the workers! We can do what we can to help storm victims. At the very least, we can stop to think about how much we need EVERYONE. All workers, all of us. Those with jobs, those without, those who want a job, and those struggling to make ends meet, (even though they work every day and sometimes at more than one job).
I hope you enjoy this art work by my grandfather, the late artist Ernst Halberstadt. This is art he made for a union brochure that was never produced, circa 1949 or 1950. (It is Copyright Ernst Halberstadt 1949, Copyright Halberstadt Estate 2011). Just makes me think. How some things have changed, and how some things stayed the same. And what is in common? The worker wants a living wage, safe job conditions, health insurance, etc. The worker wants to support the family, put food on the table, clothes on kids’ backs. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, or want, or NEED in America in 2011. I wonder how it’s all going to unfold. There are bridges, roads, and homes that need to be rebuilt. My grandfather also worked as a mural artist for the WPA. I can’t for the life of me understand how there is not such a program in place today. I think there should be.
A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer lives are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
To celebrate the worker, Max is singing:
“I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live long day.”
Keep on fightin’. Keep on keepin’ on. Strength in numbers.
Happy Labor’s Day, Workers!