Labor Day

What is Labor Day? It is a day we as a society set aside to honor the work done by people, past and present, to provide a livelihood for their families. In recent decades it has also come to mean a last three day weekend with the family before the close of the summer season.

I could have easily honored them by participating in a parade – and don’t get me wrong, I love parades!

However, this year, as Miss Teen International 2010, I decided to honor those who actually have to work on Labor Day, i.e., our firefighters, police officers, hospital employees and members of the military. These are the people who have accepted the commitment to be away from their own families and private pursuits so as to keep the wheels of civilization turning while the rest of us enjoy a weekend of rest and enjoyment with our families.

So, I had an idea. With the help of my 86 year old grandmother (also named Juliana), I baked cookies and delivered them to the honorable men and women who do not get to take Labor Day off.

We baked homemade shortbread cookies using my Great Grandmother Brown’s recipe (she was a Scottish immigrant so it is THE BEST authentic Scottish shortbread!) as well as baking a batch of oatmeal raisin molasses cookies-yum! (I will not admit how much butter went into those cookies…!)

My Dad and I visited the local fire house – they are a volunteer fire department and their dedication and commitment has always amazed me. Over the years they have been there for my family through injuries, a small house fire, and plenty of not-so-successful attempts at cooking and baking. Everything was always okay in the end due to the firefighter’s responsiveness. It was great to tell them “Thank you for all that you do for the community”, and to deliver them the home baked cookies personally.

Next we visited the U.S. Army Reserve. These individuals have been instrumental in keeping us safe during both natural and man made disasters. Many of these brave men and women have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. They were very appreciative of being remembered on Labor Day and loved the cookies- especially the shortbread ones!

Next, on to the local Police Station sub station! I am delighted to note that my community is almost crime free due to the vigilance of these brave men and women – they really liked the oatmeal raisin molasses cookies and were happy to be remembered on Labor Day.

Last but not least was the visit to the local Hospital where I was born eighteen years ago. Rules prohibited them from accepting the cookies and, like the military facility, also prohibited me from taking photos inside – but they were pleased to be remembered on Labor Day! Today really showed me how valuable and powerful a simple smile and “thank you” can be.

Visiting the hospital reminded me what a role model for service my Grandmother has always been. As a career nurse until age 70, she would work on the Holidays, especially Christmas, so that the younger nurses with young children could be home with their families. I really admire her selflessness and hope that it inspires you as much as it has always inspired me.

After I finished all of my visits, my dad and I stopped at a shopping center to run a few errands and noticed that there was black smoke rising from the Panera Bread restaurant in the shopping center’s parking lot. The smoke quickly turned into yellow and orange flames as people from the restaurant quickly evacuated. Within moments, I heard a fire truck roar down the street. The firefighters safely extinguished the fire and there was very minimal damage done to the restaurant. I recognized some of the firefighters from my visit and I was not only so thankful that they were selfless enough to spend their time on Labor Day protecting our community, but I was also glad that I had taken the opportunity to thank them.

Everyone, no matter how big or small their job may be, play such an instrumental part in keeping our community and country running safely and smoothly. I encourage you to make the commitment that I have decided to make today, to remember to thank those whose jobs you may take for granted, on Labor Day and every day.

Now, as soon as I upload this blog, its time for me to get back to my own labors on Labor Day…homework!

Happy Labor Day to all!

Juliana McKee


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