I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day weekend. It’s become a time of passage, celebrating the end of summer, the prelude to fall and, in the “old” days, the starting of a new school year.

Like everything else in this time of pandemic, it was different this year, lacking the parades and festivals of recent past. Still, I hope you took time to think about those whose work keeps our society and our economy going.

After all, the Day was started for that purpose. Peter J. McGuire, good Irishman that he was, first proposed “a holiday representative of the industrial spirit — the great vital force of our nation.” At his suggestion, the Central Labor Union organized a parade of 100,000 marchers who circled New York City’s Union Square before enjoying picnics, dancing, fireworks and, of course, oratory.

That celebration was so successful that it was repeated the next year and, in 1884, the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor proposed an annual observance on the first Monday in September. Thirty states had added that new event before President Grover Cleveland declared it a legal holiday in 1894.

The tie between Labor Day and unions has gradually diminished, but it is still a time to recognize the contributions of those who work for a living. As we do that now, we think first of those “essential” workers without whom our lives would be much poorer.

Vital services include health care, education and sanitation services, providers and transporters of food and mail, office workers, repair persons, civic employees, our military and public safety workers and so many more who provide us with the things we need. That, of course, has to include those who work to put a little beauty and culture in our lives.

As we think about the many, I would like to name a few who deserve appreciation. These are some of my Labor Day honorees.

The first has the whole town talking. On Point Catering and Events, headquartered at 710 6th St. in Osawatomie, recently observed a one-year anniversary as a full-time business. Chefs Nick and Anna Norman have been preparing and delivering quality meals to others through a business design unlike any others in our immediate area. They present menus for the week ahead, accept orders until deadline and then schedule and deliver those orders to clients’ doors. Reviews are spectacular.

Wright Way Remodeling is improving Oz and Miami County one house at a time. Kirk and Sheila Wright have purchased rundown properties and rebuilt them into show pieces that are attractive and much-needed.

Pat and Angie Hoskins at Pat’s Signs and Banners recently unveiled the former Coach Light building to popular acclaim. The new facade features a 1942 picture of Osawatomie’s Main Street, making it another sight to see downtown and one less empty store front.

Don’s Barber Shop at 505 6th St. is observing its 65th anniversary. It was purchased by Don Davis in 1955 and may be the longest-running shop of its kind in the area. Don died earlier this year after retiring in 2007. His son Ken continues the barbering there and maintains his dad’s legacy.

And, finally, on this much-abbreviated list of “workers” whose labor improves our city and county, a salute to the members of Osawatomie PRIDE. This new crew is much younger than PRIDE forces of the past and, as a result, they have not shirked the heavy work. They have already cleaned and improved streets, lots and even the City Lake and promise more projects ahead.

Thanks to them and to all who keep that “vital force” of labor visible here.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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