Well, I certainly didn’t do anything worthy of a free day off… And maybe you haven’t either. But the collective “we” as past and present Americans are why this day is such a big deal.
100 years ago, uneducated men and women worked long hours for small paychecks. They risked on-the-job injuries which would result not in a lifetime of Social Security pension and disability insurance, but definite poverty with little hope of recovery. Mothers, fathers, and their children were working. They expected to work from daybreak to evening, from childhood to death.
50 years ago people of color were still suffering the same working conditions, with the same lifetime commitment to struggle.
And us? I don’t know about you but I recently went through a brief period of unemployment and now, happily, I have a job. There is air-conditioning where I work. In fact, someone came by last week to make sure it was working properly. Granted, I teach children and ultimately that guy was concerned with the comfort of the kids. Even so, aren’t we fortunate that our children’s comfort is such a priority? That they aren’t expected to join the workforce? And in 2013 we are fortunate that, if you or I accidentally get hurt at work, someone else is going to pay our medical bills and provide us with a small income.
I am not a political person and don’t want to take this to the level of being a political debate. My point is that we don’t suffer nearly as much as our ancestors did to make a living. The path to a college education is more possible today than it ever was before. For those who are motivated, the world is their oyster. We live in the country that many people dream of being a part of.
I feel very thankful today. For the opportunities that Americans have, for the comforts that we enjoy, and for the country that protected us all along. Let’s set aside our political ideas and be thankful for the men and women who fought for our day, for our country, and for our rights.