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Reflecting on Labor Day

By Ellen Golombek

The Labor Day weekend was an opportunity to enjoy some quality time with friends and family. It’s widely celebrated as the last hurrah of summer.

In addition to being able to relax and recharge our batteries during the past three-day weekend, I would like to suggest that we also take just a few minutes to reflect on what the holiday is really all about.

Labor Day is a time to honor the working men and women whose courage, ambition and values made America work. Their competitive spirit and ingenuity led to unparalleled productivity. Manufacturing and waves of innovation put the U.S. economy on a high-growth path throughout the last century.

The American worker built cities, ships and airplanes, televisions, automobiles and the interstate highway system. The Twentieth Century has come to be known as “the American Century” thanks to their efforts.

But Labor Day is not just a time to reflect on our “glory days” because, contrary to what some may believe, our best years are not behind us. Every day at the Department of Labor and Employment, we honor the state’s workers and the employers who hire them.

One of our key responsibilities is to connect Colorado job seekers with employment opportunities and ensure that Colorado employers have a skilled workforce on which they can depend. That responsibility provides us a strong connection to the men and women who make Colorado work. What I see every day in my role as the Executive Director of this agency assures me that the work ethic of the American people is alive and well.

The dignity of a job well done, the value of innovation, the competitive spirit that made America great in the last century have not gone out of style. Hard work is ingrained in the fabric of America and this holiday is not just about past accomplishments. It’s a time to honor a modern generation of workers, still on the job, making America strong and globally competitive.

Those honorees include most of us, whether we own our own business or are wage earners, whether we are entering the workplace for the first time or have long been employed.

Today, more than a century after the holiday was first observed, its importance can get lost amid all the cookouts, but I hope reflecting back on Labor Day 2013 will be a time to recognize how far we’ve come thanks to the workforce of America’s past and present and how far our children and their children – the workforce of the future – will take us.

Looking beyond Labor Day, let’s celebrate the fact that America’s working men and women still have the drive and the greatness to succeed. It’s a holiday about us. Together, we are worth celebrating.

Ellen Golombek is the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

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