Take time to remember the true meaning of Labor Day

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Panarisi
As the summer draws to a close, temps creep out of the triple digits, schools get into full swing, we'll come together this weekend, as a nation, to celebrate Labor Day.

For some, it's just another "day off," time to hit the malls, the "links" or take one last shot at your favorite summertime activity.

I hope everyone can enjoy this day, as I plan to as well.

But before you do, please take a minute and reflect on how we came to celebrate this day, and how important the honorees have become to our nation, and in particular, AEDC.

We have lots of holidays honoring specific groups in our country.

Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, President's Day just to name a few.

But what about Labor Day?

Where did that come from?

Why is it a national holiday? The answer might surprise you.

The history of Labor Day isn't entirely clear, but it's well acknowledged that the idea emerged in the late 1800s and started at a local level, most likely by the Central Labor Union in New York City.

The concept was to establish a "working man's holiday" and, in the case of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

The first recorded large scale event occurred on Sept. 5, 1882, and included a parade and a festival for workers and their families.

In the following years, the idea spread rapidly, as first municipalities, and then states, passed legislation formalizing the celebration and reserving "the first Monday in September" as the official day of recognition.

But it wasn't until 1894 that Congress passed legislation officially declaring a national holiday.

Here at AEDC, we have a special reason to celebrate this day.

Why? Just look around!

Can there be any doubt who we owe a debt of gratitude to "all the grandeur we behold" on our base?

Sure, we're proud of all the technical achievements attributable to the legions of researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians that have graced our hallowed halls.

But AEDC would still be little more than a forest without the tireless efforts of the carpenters, welders, pipefitters, electricians, bricklayers and countless other craftsman who poured their hearts and souls into making this place THE center of aerospace development.

Think about it. Somebody had to build all of this!

I host a lot of tours here, and while I make it a point to showcase our technical capabilities, I spend the vast majority of my time bragging about all the phenomenal facilities built right here.

Where do I take the VIPs? The C-2 Exhaust "tubes;" the Model Shop; a walk through 16S.

I point out the miles of pipe, the beautiful welds, the immaculate machining.

And the fact that we make most of the parts that keep this stuff running right here.

Every aspect of our facilities oozes pride, professionalism, and a dedication to something bigger than any one of us.

Couldn't have done it without the Ph.Ds, but we'd be a stack of drawings without the craft men and women who sacrificed so much to turn those dreams into reality.

So this weekend, please join me in thanking those who put this place on the map.

Those who turned steel and concrete into the world's premier aerospace test facility. A place that bred the F-15, the F-22, and the F-35, the engines that put the "super" in supersonic, and literally, took the nation on our first steps to landing on the moon.

I couldn't be prouder of the craft team that makes it happen every day, typically in the most demanding working conditions, and often behind the scenes. They don't ask for, and rarely get the limelight. This is their day. I salute each and every one of them.

Because of them, I can come through the gates in the morning and pinch myself. I still can't believe I get to work here. And get paid for it! They chose to make a difference, and our nation is still the greatest thanks to their efforts.

From all of us at "H-Q" a hearty thanks and our best wishes on a day you have absolutely deserved.