Labor Omnia Vincit

HAPPY LABOR DAY. Or, is it Merry Labor Day? Labor Day is a mystery, but I’m glad we have it.

For you in other lands who read About Pops, Labor Day was, best I can tell, a holiday set aside to celebrate the American worker. In Oklahoma, where I live, by creed we honor that sentiment perpetually. Our state’s motto is Labor Omnia Vincit. 

“It is a Latin phrase meaning "Work conquers all". The phrase is adapted from Virgil's Georgics, Book I, line 145-6: ...Labor omnia vicit / improbus ("Steady work overcame all things"). The poem was written in support of Augustus Caesar's "Back to the land" policy, aimed at encouraging more Romans to become farmers. Currently the state motto of the State of Oklahoma and incorporated into its state seal in 1907, the motto originally appeared on the territorial seal of Oklahoma Territory.” —Wikipedia.

My bro-in-law Art, travels extensively and unearths some of the coolest treasures. He could have his own TV show. Recently, he ran across a safety kit from Conoco Oil. Inside the kit was a safety manual. It was issued September 1, 1964. On Labor Day. Intentionally?

The manual is full of excellent safety guidance, like this: 

“Do not use compressed air to clean clothes. Never discharge compressed air onto other employees because serious injuries have resulted from such “horseplay” antics.”

Some of the guidance seems to be outdated, but it was probably the best available in 1964. Here, for example is the entire procedure to treat “Heart Stoppage”:

“Give closed heart massage (only if heart is stopped) and mouth to mouth respiration [sic].”

The thing I found most interesting about the Conoco safety manual was the Workman’s Creed printed on the back cover. I share it here, on this Labor Day, September 1, 2014, 50 years after its publication.

And the end is that the workman shall live to enjoy the fruits of his labor; that his mother shall have the comforts of his arm in her age; that his wife shall not be untimely a widow; that his children shall have a father; and that cripples and helpless wrecks who were once strong men shall not longer be a by-product of industry.” —P.B. Juhnke.

Not exactly the words I would have chosen, but what a beautiful, re-humanizing sentiment.

Labor Omnia Vincit