Each year at this time America takes a holiday to celebrate labor. This nation's history comes alive again every time Labor Day rolls around.
We remember the laborers at Jamestown, marching in ranks to the fields at first light with pickax and spade to "plant a nation where none before hath stood."
We recall and we celebrate the Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth Colony, consoled in their continual labors by the thought that "The gain of honest pains is never base."
And we remember the immigrant settlers who braved the terrors of an ocean voyage undersail - "bad drinking water and putrid salt meat . . . dysentery, scurvy, typhus, canker, and mouth rot" - to reach and work their brave new world.
And the merchant seamen, voyaging sometimes for years at a time, to bring home tea and porcelain and silk from China.
And we honor all the worn backs and blistered hands that hewed the trees and bulled the stumps and hauled the dirt to ". . . bind the Republic together with a perfect system of roads and canals."
And the mountain men - hunters and fur traders and trappers - whose perilous labors led a nation over the Rockies and down the Snake and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific.
And later those countiess unsung laborers - bargemen and miners, builders and millwrights, ore haulers, and the smelters of steel - who changed Amercia in 20 years, from 1880 to 1900, into one of the greatest manufacturing nations in the world.
And tip our hats to the memory of Samuel Gompers, the cigar maker from New York's Lower EastSide, who led the American Federation of Labor through its earliest days and some of its toughest battles.
And we salute those who built the "flivvers" that gradually revolutionized the American way of life - and all those who worked the other trades and industries that bloomed as American commerce boomed.
And we take great pride that American labor and ingenuity built the spaceships that bore the first men to the moon. We're awed at the thought that the astronauts, in a sense, joined hands with the hardy pioneers of Jamestown, planting this nation's flag where none before had ever stood.
That's what Labor Day is all about: a salute to work and all the workers who built America. No other nation has been served so well by laboring men and women.