Americans set aside a day each year to pay tribute to the nation's workers, and the contributions they have made to the strength and well-being of the nation.

The holiday dates back to Sept. 5, 1882, when the Central Labor Union celebrated the first Labor Day with a demonstration and picnic in New York City.

Since that time, Americans have celebrated Labor Day with parades, barbecues and long weekends away from the stresses of work and household chores.

For most workers at Fort Sam Houston, Labor Day will equate to a well-deserved day off from work. The normally bustling ID card sections, child-care facilities, schools and training facilities will be unnaturally quiet as employees clock out for the day.

"This office is very busy and when we get a day off we enjoy it," said Bessie Scott, site and security manager, ID Card Section. "We have a great staff and supervisors."

Scott said she plans to relax and spend time with her Family over the holiday weekend.

"I just became a new grandmother, a beautiful baby boy, so I'll spend time with my daughter and her Family," she said.

For others throughout post, the holiday will not signify a day off; it will simply mark the start of another work week.

On Labor Day, Soldiers will pull staff duty at the barracks, dining facility cooks and servers will don their aprons and open facility doors, security officers will stand sentry at the post entry points, and Brooke Army Medical Center health care workers will continue their round-the-clock quality care for wounded warriors and other hospital patients.

"We're the first line of defense against terrorism," said Security Officer Aaron Franklin, from Walden Security. "We understand the importance of protecting this installation."

Thousands of miles away, in far-off places like Iraq and Afghanistan, service members will wake to another long day where their lives are on the line, and their Families are ever-present on their minds.

Whether standing post in Iraq, on staff duty at Fort Sam Houston or off duty at home, all Department of Defense employees deserve a salute and the heartfelt gratitude of our nation.