Marching To A Different Drummer
Usually, the editorial preceding Labor Day weekend is wrapped around the history of the holiday and the sense of community wrought by our Labor Day parade.
This year is different. For the first time since 1962, including a delayed 2011 parade due to Tropical Storm Irene, no parade will wend its way down our Main Street. Crowds will not line the center of town at the flagpole, Glover Avenue, or Queen Street anticipating the drumbeat of the Newtown High School marching band, blasts of sirens from emergency vehicles, the colorful floats, and — in this election year — droves of politicians and political groups adding lots of red, white, and blue to this end of summer event.
Where friends and families usually spill out from front porches and driveways to the curbsides (to chairs proactively set up the night before) there will most likely be but a trickle of groups, celebrating in socially distanced clusters.
On this Labor Day, celebrations will have a somber tone as we reflect on those who have lost jobs and livelihood since the coronavirus shut down businesses, schools, and other places we gathered to work and play. Americans now struggle to pay mortgages and rent. Food insecurity has rocketed and many who never dreamed they would be in such a position find themselves at food pantries, hoping others who are more able to make their ways through this crisis are generous, so that senior citizens, children, and families can eat.
Complications filing for unemployment at the Department of Labor and a stalled relief plan at the federal level have left futures in limbo. Others whose careers did not initially not fall into the criteria for benefits foundered until help — too little, too late for some — was provided.
Rather than the parade camaraderie normally anticipated, many find the companions of sadness and frustration at their sides.
With Phase 3 of Connecticut’s return to “normalcy” on pause, this Labor Day demands a robust response to honor workers who keep the engine of society turning.
How do we make this moment better? Wear a mask, socially distance, and spend what money you can or must in the businesses that populate our town. Local support contributes to the economic wellbeing of individuals, and of our town, state, and country.
If dining in or outside makes you uncomfortable, consider take-out or curbside service, which nearly every restaurant offers. Be as generous as you can be when tipping your server; reward their labor.
Alleviate food insecurity for those who cannot return to employment or whose jobs have been compromised as they tend to childcare and schooling duties. FAITH Food Pantry (newtownfoodpantry.org) welcomes your donations at 46 Church Hill Road — call 203-837-0816 or 203-426-5604 ahead to arrange an appointment. If you need food assistance, be brave; there is no shame in accepting this help. One day, you will pay it forward.
We hear the drumbeat of uncertainty as we approach autumn, but we march forward to the music of hope.