"Remember the workers and thank the unions."
Labor Day is one of those days that I never really thought much about. But Labor Day is about the working folks and their rights in this country. It could be that Pea Ridge, where I grew up, was more important in that than I will ever know. I picked up tidbits from my granddaddy, "Bill Pickett," when I was a kid but kids do not really have the understanding to comprehend such until they are a whole lot older.
Pa Bill used to tell me about work in the coal mines. Those were some hard times and after working to the bone, poor as dirt the whole time, trying to feed his family, he was disabled with Black Lung. Now, after all those years, Black Lung is showing up again among the coal miners. I just heard that the other day. That is not a good thing.
The stories Pa Bill told me about life and work in the coal mines was what got me started writing in the first place. Before it was done, it had me thinking pretty hard about politics too.
Pa Bill was involved with the United Mine Workers of America and so were a lot of his family and friends in the Pea Ridge area. Sam Littlefield was among them. He was an important union leader and he is buried right there in Macedonia Cemetery. President of the United Mine Workers District 20 in Alabama, Sam Littlefield was shot and killed under very dubious, "supposedly random," circumstances in a hotel burglary, in Washington DC.
Although I could see that happening with some of the DC hotels that I have been in, he was up there for some important meetings to discuss some of the workplace issues that the coal miners were facing. A lot of the powers that be were not wonderfully happy that the coal miners were standing up for better conditions in the mines and their rights as workers. The circumstances of Sam Littlefield's death were never properly resolved in much of anybody's eyes, except maybe those of the folks who represented the coal mine owners and operators who also had an interest in those meetings. They were apparently quite happy that it was "declared" a random burglary.
Knowing the things that Pa Bill told me and where I came from, what our people went through, and then Sam Littlefield giving his very life working to make things better for the coal miners while others flat out died or worked until they were completely disabled and could not work another day in those mines, I have a real hard time when folks do not understand that unions and the rights of working folks are important. Blood was shed and lives lost when folks started trying to improve the conditions for the workers in this country. They were working to the bone and still starving.
It was not just on Pea Ridge though, it was all over the country. Those old union members did a lot of good toward improving the rights of the workers in this country and some of the ones from Pea Ridge were right there leading the fight. Give them a thought and a little bit of thanks as you fire up the grill. Remember the sacrifices of the good hard working folks who came before us. And that's my two cents on Labor Day.
Image Credit: Pixabay