As we continue our Labor Day History series [Read: Part 1 here] our focus today is on a few of America’s notable workers down through the years. While I was at it I thought I’d throw in some of my favorite quotes on the topic of hard work — the backbone of America.
Some Notable American Workers:
- Captain John Smith – Technically, he was not an American but a British subject living in Virginia. However, it could be argued that without his arrival, the colony would not have survived. According to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, “Smith is credited with almost singlehandedly preserving the first English Virginians from the ravages of their own sloth as well as from the hostility of their native neighbors.” For early communal settlers, Smith’s insistence that men must work in order to eat was needed to shock them out of lethargy and into the mindset necessary to ensure Virginia’s survival.
- Lewis Howard Latimer – The son of former slaves, Latimer is remembered for his work on the light bulb filament and the telephone. From humble roots, he rose to work for both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, doing much research and hard work behind the scenes to make these two prominent men even more successful.
- Henry Ford – Long before he pioneered the assembly line system that would change American industry forever, young Henry Ford already displayed the hard work and initiative that would one day make him famous: he “organized other boys to build rudimentary water wheels and steam engines…. taught himself to fix watches, and used the watches as textbooks to learn the rudiments of machine design. Thus, young Ford demonstrated mechanical ability, a facility for leadership, and a preference for learning by trial-and-error” (The Henry Ford).
- Dr. Jonas Salk – Credited with pioneering the polio vaccine, Dr. Salk not only worked for years to refine the technique (using himself and his family members as test subjects) but he also refused to patent the vaccine for profit, choosing instead to make it freely available to everyone.
“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
“If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it’s the best possible substitute for it.”
~James A. Garfield
All of the above had a work ethic that was unrelenting until they reached their goals. That work ethic is evidenced in generations past who built this country and then turned that work ethic towards the war effort when their country called. No complaints about hours, pay, benefits, pensions — there were jobs to be done and that was all that mattered!
“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”
~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Ludlow, September 6, 1824
Look at the date of the above quote. Mr. Jefferson most certainly was a wise man. The greatness of our Nation is that to this very day there are strong Americans willing to work hard; like our military for a cause greater than self. What is becoming increasingly clear is we will have challenges ahead — but that has never stop patriots from rising to the occasion and getting the job done!
As you celebrate the upcoming Labor Day, be safe, relax and enjoy your friends and family. Something tells me in the days, months, years ahead we are going to have to work harder than ever to restore our Republic.
At *your* service,
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