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The first Monday in September is a time for fun and recreation. It is ironic that the name contradicts the purpose. Labor implies work, but the day is really a holiday from work for many.

In a whirl of activity, outdoor grills and swimming pools are made ready, picnic baskets are packed: It's Labor Day. Here we come! Parks, nature trails, boats, pools and outdoor attractions are ready for heavy attendance. Fun in the sun seems to be the dominant theme.

Of course, there is much more. There is also the special enjoyment many take in just having time to be quiet, rest, listen to music, read and enjoy being home. We all can't march to the same drummer, but as long as the tunes suit us, we can feel the day to be time well-spent.

To what do we owe this glorious gift of time off and a day of fun? We owe the workers of the past and workers of today for bringing us materially to a higher standard of living and a level of production. Labor is struggling to bring us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. With all its faults and all its needs for improvement, it has created and added to our nation's strength, freedom and leadership.

Labor Day differs from most holidays because it does not connect with conflicts over man's prowess or with victories of one nation over another. It honors no sect, race or nation. It honors the workers. It is the creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the workers.

As we pay tribute to the workers in America, we will hear many commentaries and read many articles by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials giving their perceptions of the value and history of this special day.

No one needs this tribute more than the workers of 2009. The uncertain financial status and the numerous lost jobs will not be forgotten. We need to remember the tributes to the workers by honoring them this Labor Day.

Now for the fun! Choose your pleasure, whether it be indoor or outdoor, active or inactive. It's your day! Let the fun begin; you've earned it.

Ethel Gillette is a writer living in St. Petersburg.