Labor Day is observed on the first Monday of every September. It is a national holiday to recognize the strides that labor has made to our society and to remember the workforce of America and the contributions we have made to make our country the greatest in the world.
Labor Day also marks the end of summer, the start of the college and professional football season, and back to school.
Walt Whitman wrote several poems celebrating the common American worker. My favorite is “I Hear America Singing” which appeared in the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass. The poem beautifully expresses Mr. Whitman’s love of America and the vitality and variety of its people. Hope you enjoy it.
I Hear America Singing
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-
hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
as he stands,
The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morn-
ing, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader’s Edition. New York University Press, 1965
Sweat and Blood: A History of U.S. Labor Unions (People’s History by Gloria Skurzynski
The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon, by William M. Adler
Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor, by Tom Juravich and Kate Bronfenbrenner