It may be time to recycle the idea of Labor Day. Instead of a day off, perhaps it should become a day on, a day devoted, across the nation, to helping out - a day, in fact, of national service. Many Americans already volunteer their time in good causes. But what was lost with the sacrifice we were never asked to make after 9/11 was a sense of collective effort, the awareness that this was something we were all in together. That feeling makes a difference, and it helps us to make a difference. Labor Day is now just a pause at summer's end. Perhaps we can turn it into something more important.The editors suggest, rightly I think, that this would be a sizable departure from our current take on Labor Day which, for most, is a day to "take the day off and consider ourselves entitled to do so."
They also suggest, less strongly, that their idea may conflict with the original intent of the holiday to celebrate unions and the labor movement. I think that a day of community work, properly organized, would be entirely within the spirit of the original labor movement; working together, we are stronger. Working together, we are a community.
I think this is a great idea.