Labor Day 2017

What does Labor Day mean to you? Summer’s last hurrah? An extra day to sleep in, extend a weekend trip, or (ugh) tackle a home improvement project? Something else entirely, or all of the above? I neither expect, nor want, this to change any plans or mindset, but as U.S. federal holidays go, I find the history and meaning of Labor Day to be fascinating.

Maybe not as fascinating as Mister Spock preparing to drop the bass, but still pretty fascinating.

1777 – The first unions were organized in the United States by printers, carpenters and shoemakers, seeking better wages and shorter hours.

1825 – The United Tailoresses of New York, the first all-women’s union, is formed in New York City.

1827 – The Mechanics Union of Trade Associations forms in Philadelphia to call for a standardized 10-hour workday.

1840 – President Martin Van Buren establishes a 10-hour workday for federal workers.

1868 – The first federal 8-hour labor law is passed, but only applies to a small group of federal workers.

1885-1886 – Several municipalities around the United States declare Labor Day ordinances – a day of rest to recognize the social and economic achievements of American workers.

1887 – Oregon passes the first state-wide Labor Day observance law.  Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York follow suit this same year.

1891 – Labor Day is established as a national holiday by the Congress of the United States.

I don’t have the space (or the will) to get in to a detailed discourse on the highs (and lows) of the achievements (and setbacks) of the American working class through the 20th Century.  If I did, I’d choose to focus on the positive.  Almost everyone I know who’s in the American work force – family, friends, neighbors, and especially my co-workers at EXAIR – enjoys a safe work environment, fair wages & benefits, and opportunities unavailable anywhere else in the world.  So, Monday, I’ll take the day off that our forebears fought and earned for us.

If you’d like to talk about a compressed air product application, give me a call.  On Tuesday.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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DJ Spock photo courtesy of geraldfordCreative Commons License

Memorial Day 2017

We’re in the home stretch now…mere hours away from Memorial Day weekend, or, as I call it, the Official Start Of Summer™.  EXAIR Corporation will be closed on Monday for this occasion. To make good use of this time off, I have three cookouts planned: one at the neighbors’, one at the in-laws’, and the third is self-inflicted.

As much as I like my neighbors and my in-laws (really,) I’m expecting that third one to be my favorite, even considering that I’m the one that has to clean up after it. Why, you may ask? Because we’re going to make s’mores. If you don’t know what s’mores are, I have two thoughts: 1) You’re killing me, and 2) Watch this RIGHT NOW (it’ll make you better understand my first thought too):

Whatever our plans, Monday culminates the celebration of this long weekend…Memorial Day. In the midst of our celebration and activities (or lack thereof – I’m all for some relaxation too,) I encourage you, dear reader, to remember the reason that this day was consecrated.

It was thirteen years ago last month that my wife called me at work to tell me the news that our neighbor’s son had been captured by hostile forces in Iraq.  By the time I got home, yellow ribbons were everywhere…trees, mailboxes, front doors, windows…all in support and hope for Matt Maupin.

Four years later was when the next Memorial Day took on an even more united meaning for our small town, when Matt’s family got the word that he had, in fact, been killed in service of his country.  I still see his father around town, and the grief has spurred determination to make something greater come from the remembrance of his son’s sacrifice.   The Yellow Ribbon Support Center:

*Sends care packages to military individuals serving in harm’s way.

*Hosts an annual “Let Us Never Forget” Scholarship dinner to honor local fallen heroes.  Over half a million dollars worth of scholarships have been awarded to date in remembrance & honor.

*Sends & supports speakers at schools, public events, gatherings, etc. to share the stories of our troops’ heroism.

The Yellow Ribbon Support Center is one of many organizations that could use your help, if you’re so inclined to find one, wherever you may be.  I still think, too, that every one of our fallen heroes, and their families, will want you to have an enjoyable holiday weekend.  It’s been paid for dearly.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Enjoy Your Family and Friends

As many of us gather together for the holidays we may get to see (or have to see) family members and old friends we do not normally visit. I particularly enjoy this time of year (not only for the food) but I get to see my 2 cousins, 1 who lives in Texas and the other in North Carolina. This is the only time we can ALL get together and this year is a little more special as one of my cousins gets to meet our new son for the first time.

My family celebrates the same way a lot of families do, by preparing a lot of food, complete with all the trimmings. As most families have their own tradition, mine isn’t much different. After we say grace, we start at one end of the table and work our way around so everyone has a chance to give thanks for their blessings. I personally am thankful for more than words could ever express. I have a beautiful wife, who supports me through all life’s craziness. I’m blessed beyond measure to have 2 wonderful, healthy boys who I cherish more than anything and a family I can confide in and turn to whenever needed.

The other thing I have been particularly blessed with is my job. I have an awesome job! I am truly thankful that I work for a company who values it’s customers and it’s employees just the same. I have only been here a short time, but it has truly been the best year and a half of my career.

Our offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday of this week and next week so our employees can celebrate Christmas and the new year with their families. Everyone has a tradition, and whatever yours is, I hope you celebrate to the fullest and enjoy each other’s company. We never know what tomorrow brings so be thankful for the days you have and live life to it’s fullest. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

Memorial Day

It all started the year after I bought my house. My next door neighbor – a Vietnam-era veteran, Honor Flight Guardian, and the best neighbor ever – bought a bunch of American flags & poles, and asked if it would be OK to put them out along the sidewalk in front of our houses to observe the upcoming Independence Day holiday…he had enough to go all the way to the corner of our street. We all thought it was a fantastic idea. And it was just the start.

The following year, just before Memorial Day, as Monty raised the flags down our street, another row popped up around the corner. And, come Fourth of July, there were more. Now, every sidewalk in our neighborhood is decorated every Memorial Day and Independence Day, at 10- to 12-foot intervals (to be fair, nobody published a standard, so it is what it is) with the Stars and Stripes.

I DO love this neighborhood.
I DO love this neighborhood.

Memorial Day, is, of course, the day that we honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the great country that my awesome little neighborhood is part & parcel of. And honor it we will. There will be parades with marching bands and floats. Veteran’s groups will perform ceremonies and vigils. Military aircraft will perform fly-overs at ballgames & special events. Monty will set the flags down our sidewalk. And most of us will enjoy a long weekend.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media, reminding us of the meaning of Memorial Day, “in case you thought it was national grill-out day, just another 3-day weekend, etc.” It’s a good reminder; that much is true. But we can honor their sacrifice in celebration too. This weekend, dear reader, I encourage you to light up the grill. Go see some fireworks. Bicycle around the neighborhood (or further) with your kids.  Go camping. Sleep in. Stay up late. Spend time with friends and family. These things are the way of life that our heroes fought and died for, right?

But in the midst of whatever you do, remember them: From the Minutemen who fell at Lexington & Concord, to those who didn’t make it home from the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  May God bless them all, and those they left behind.

In closing, as a former submariner, I am also reminded of the ninety-nine members of the crew of USS Scorpion (SSN-589,) which was lost 47 years ago today (presumed, based on last communications.)

Sailors, rest your oars.
Sailors, rest your oars.

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.  It’s been paid for dearly.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Memorial Day 2013 image courtesy of Tony AlterCreative Commons License