Today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Children have returned to the classrooms, football has resumed and the days have become noticeably shorter.
It's a time when many people plan for that one last picnic or one last swim.
But it is much more, as the words of Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, remind us: "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation."
History shows us that Gompers was not totally right, as the bloody battles of Homestead, Pa., in 1892, and at Ford's Rouge complex in the 1930s, for example, remind us.
Labor has become a forgotten issue as our economy struggles to regain strength. Yet, labor built the United States, from miners to Steelworkers. Railroad workers and autoworkers put our country on wheels. Labor unloads ships and stocks shelves, it places iron at the top of skyscrapers and it sweeps floors when the finished buildings close for the evening.
Today's workers are sending a simple message - that Americans only need the opportunity to have a decent job that pays a decent wage and allows them the chance to seek the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In short, labor stands ready to combat the growing socialistic trend seen in our country that calls for the greater parts of our lives to be controlled by and paid for by the federal government.
That's a far cry from the can-do spirit that filled America when the first Labor Day was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union in New York City. Then - as now -Labor Day was about the building and preservation of a nation and a way of life that is worth protecting.
It's that spirit that we recognize on Labor Day 2012.