The national observance of Labor Day, rooted in the budding American industrialism of the late 1800’s, was originally envisioned as a day of rest for workers – a “workingmen’s holiday”. Yet throughout the years, Labor Day has transformed more into a day that marks the end of summer, and one last chance to gather and relax with family before the seasonal change to autumn.
This year the holiday weekend just happens to coincide with memorial services commemorating and celebrating the lives and accomplishments of two American icons – Aretha Franklin and Sen. John McCain.
Each of these remarkable individuals – one a prisoner of war, statesman, and hero; the other a trailblazing performer, civil rights advocate, and the “Queen of Soul” – distinguished themselves in their respective fields. They inspired their supporters and fans; they endeavored to open doors and remove barriers to advance equality; they were each role models for future generations. But above all – one was “Mom”, the other “Dad”.
All too often, people are elevated in death beyond what they were in life. The veneration and praise can far exceed the real influence they had on their children as parents. In the final analysis, if both Ms. Franklin and Sen. McCain were asked what they believed was their most important role in life, each would cite their role as parents and as members of loving families.
As a company, we play an important role in the lives of hundreds of families. Our work ensures that current and future generations will be prepared to compete and succeed in an ever-changing world. Our mission is carried out daily with passion and dedication by school leaders and principals, teachers, instructors, advisors, counselors, administrative and corporate staff.
But our professional mission should never supersede our personal mission.
I was especially struck by the grief displayed by Sen. McCain’s daughter Megan, who following a long list of tributes to her father could not restrain her grief. For to her, this great man was simply “Dad”.
No doubt, each of us has a singular memory of the loss of a loved one, especially a parent. With the parallel occurrences of the holiday weekend and the two memorial services – the importance of strong family connections is heightened.
Please know that I appreciate the work you all are doing, as individuals and as team members to advance our professional mission in schools, in communities, and for the students we help to educate.
I also appreciate the role each of you play as members of your families – as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles; and most of all as Moms and Dads.