We honor the American worker

Gowdy: We honor the American worker on Labor Day

Labor Day is here. It’s a day off. For some, it’s the unofficial end of summer, the beginning of school. For many, the traditional start to another political cycle. Labor Day also marks a change. Autumn is in the air. The wardrobe begins to change. Our television switched to football. That’s a holiday most Americans relish, with cookouts, lakes and pools, family get-togethers, and maybe even a little golf. Despite all that, it’s good to reflect on why we have this day. What this day means, what it signifies, and why it’s worth celebrating.

The American worker, the gift of having a job, our fellow citizens who do the hard, dirty, thankless jobs to keep this country going, the awareness that sang among us can’t find work, or can’t find work in their preferred field. Or perhaps they have had their work lives upended. For some reason, work and those who do it is what we celebrate on Labor Day. Our willingness and ability to work, the opportunity and the inherent value of work. I’m grateful for every job I currently have, even the ones that don’t pay, and all the jobs along the way, and for those I’ve met and for what I’ve learned.

My first job was cutting grass. Yes, I had three sisters, but they did not know we owned a lawnmower. Cutting grass was my job, and if you’re wondering, yes, I also had to clean up the kitchen when it was my turn to do that. Also, the outside work was in addition to, not in lieu of the inside work. I was twelve or 13 when that started, and I’ve been working ever since. Work is good for us. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and purpose and structure and something we can take pride in. Yes, work is the means by which we pay our bills and meet our obligations. But it can be, and often is, even more than that. It can be, if we’re lucky, part of who we are and part of what we hope to leave behind. 40 years ago, I worked with a man named SAP. His real name was Thomas, but he preferred SAP. It was a UN air-conditioned warehouse, and our job was to fill tobacco orders. SAP was a loner. He had a skin condition that just made him prefer to be alone. He had his own cart.

The rest of us took whatever cart was handy. But SAP had his own, with pictures of his family and his favorite Bible verse written in magic marker on the top of a cardboard box wired to the front of his cart. Let the dead bury the dead. That was his verse. If you took a poll of the world, I don’t think anyone else would cite that as their favorite Bible verse except SAP. He was there when I started in the early 1980s, and he was there four summers later when I left. And for me, and some of my co-workers. It was just a summer job. One coworker went on to become a normal surgeon. One went on to work for the Carolina Panthers. But it wasn’t a summer job for the south. It was his job year-round, every day, with scant prospects for advancement, perseverance a reason to get up in the morning being part of a team, even for a man who preferred to be alone. Purpose and meaning and something to take pride in. I’ve had a lot of co-workers over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever had one who understood the inherent value of a job or was more grateful for the work than SAP.

It’s been 40 years and SAP is probably on the other side by now. He’s probably wondering how I even graduated high school, much less got elected. To do anything. You got to believe in miracles. App. So I’m dedicating this Labor Day to him for proving that work is as good for the soul as it is for the wallet. Maybe even better in the long run. And I hope God gave you a different Bible verse to carry around with you. Perhaps the one that says God is just and will not forget your hard work. Happy Labor Day to everyone. Thank you for spending part of your Sunday with us. I hope you have a great week ahead. Until next week, you can find us online at Gowdy America or the Trey Gowdy podcast. Goodnight from South Carolina.

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