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To Men in Hardhats – with Love

My town is in a growth boom.

Buildings going up everywhere.

Everyday I see men (mostly men) carrying steel rebar, pouring concrete, and operating heavy machines.

Out in all kinds of weather (mostly rain) and using their bodies rigorously.

When I spoke of my admiration at a recent parent evening, I could see that one of the men had a strong emotional reaction.

When I asked, he said, “Thank you. Thank you for recognizing the work we do.”

Yet who has that dream for their son?

Who of us says, “My boy is going to grow up and operate a sky crane… or pour concrete…” ? (Even though it’s okay (and pretty darn cute) for him to adore dump trucks when he is little).

Our very feminine view is, “Of course, he’ll go to college. Of course he’ll be a doctor or lawyer or an IT guy.”

Interestingly, when I visit my dad at his assisted living home, parents talk of their grown kids with great pride, “He is a lawyer. She is a veterinarian.” I haven’t heard anyone say with great pride, “He operates a back-hoe.”


How do we begin to RE-HONOR the vocational trades, and the skilled craftsmen, who have the work ethic that built our roads and bridges?

Not to get political AT ALL, our current president wants to reinstitute training programs – where youth can learn specific skills for specific jobs while they earn a living wage. Obama’s Commerce Department found that apprenticeships are not being used as widely as they could. There is lots of work to be done in this area but the first hurdle may be just changing the way we think about hands-on jobs and skilled job training programs.

Father’s Day is about honoring ALL the men around us. On this day, can we recognize and commend the strength and magnitude of what men do for us everyday?

As women, we yearn for our men to “be more emotional,” “show their softer side,” because that’s the way WE relate and connect, the way we’re most comfortable.

This Father’s Day, I say THANK YOU – to the men who mow our lawns, grow our crops, build our homes, repair our roads and empty our garbage.

You are our bedrock.

We need you.

Thank you.

POST UPDATE: Only a day after this has been posted on the interwebs, I’ve already been receiving your messages.  Here are just a few:

  • “What a beautiful, beautiful piece…A quick read that had me tearing up!”  L.E.
  • B.F. shared a link to this very pertinent testimony of Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 2011.  He tells of his grandfather, “For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous.”

and then this from my colleague Jennifer Fink of Building

“My Dad was one of those who operated a backhoe & bulldozer, and then started an excavating company.”

“And I wanted to share this story with you: A few weeks ago, I was working at a coffee shop. There was a LOT of road and sidewalk construction going on nearby. Outside the coffee shop window, a concrete truck was pouring concrete and 4-5 guys in hard hats were spreading the concrete, etc — and groups of men in suits kept stopping to watch. Made me smile.”

–>Makes me smile, too.  Thanks for sharing!

You are invited to join the boy-friendly conversation in our Boys Alive! Facebook group!


One Response to To Men in Hardhats – with Love

  1. Lara says:

    What a beautiful piece, Janet! You couldn’t be more right.

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