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A salute to those who work on Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Conceived as a yearly national tribute to the contributions that our nation’s workers have made to the strength and prosperity of the country, the typical Labor Day observance has changed a lot over the years.

The large-scale gatherings, parades and rallies once held on Labor Day have given way to smaller, less-formal events, such as picnics and barbecues.

In spite of its title, most of us view Labor Day as a time of rest and relaxation, our last chance to hit the road or head out to the lake for one more outing before the summer season is done.

And speaking of seasons, we can remember a time when Labor Day was a pivotal date for those who wanted to be fashionable. It was once traditional to wear white — especially shoes — only after Easter and before Labor Day. Once that first Saturday in September arrived, the white shoes went to the back of the closet until spring.

In Texas and some other states, Labor Day was also the time when straw hats were traded for felt. Felt hats would then be the head covering of choice until Easter rolled around again.

Such customs are mostly a thing of the past now, although we still know a few cowboys who follow the hat rule.

There are other seasonal changes that arrive at or near Labor Day, of course. School is back in session, and for sports fans, the Labor Day weekend marks the official return of football. Baseball will continue for a few weeks, but most colleges are back on the gridiron and those who follow pro football can finally bid a fond farewell to preseason games and get serious.

Since this is Texas, Labor Day typically doesn’t bring much of an immediate climate change, even though weather forecasters have been talking about triple-digit temperatures returning for a day or two. But we know that when September arrives, fall can’t be far behind.

While discussing the meaning and traditions of Labor Day, we couldn’t help thinking that for many of our neighbors, this truly is a “labor day” — a workday like any other. While some of us can count the first Monday in September as a holiday, many folks are on the job.

We thought it might be appropriate to pause on this Labor Day to salute all the men and women who are working. As you go through the day, look around you and take note. Give them a smile or a wave. Heck, why not say thank you?

Because of these good people, our highways are safer, our homes are protected from crime and fire, the hospital is staffed with caring individuals, retail stores and restaurants are open, our utilities are up and running and we can stop at the convenience store to buy gas for that road trip we mentioned. The list goes on and on.

America’s workers helped make this nation great, and they’re still at it today.

Thanks to all of you for doing such a good job.