My first post-college job was in a large manufacturing plant. More than 3,000 people worked there, but my new boss took me to meet the vice-president in charge. In his office was a carved wooden sign that read, “All work is honorable.”
While working there, I learned that he lived the meaning of his motto. Every job in that plant was essential to its success, and he treated every employee accordingly. In his words, “Each person here is essential. The work they do serves the needs of the company.” I do not recall the words he used to tell me, but his message was clear and long-lasting: Treat every employee with respect, no matter the job description.
America owes a great debt to people who serve. Since March, we have discovered a much broader definition of “serve.” In normal times, when thinking of serving our country, I suspect the armed forces come to mind first—especially the men and women who put their lives on the line in combat.
I do not know about you, but I think next of the police, firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders. In recent decades, their work has become increasingly dangerous and requires dedication and bravery. And the more danger they face, the more we need their service.
Today, in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, people who work in healthcare are exhibiting perseverance and valor far beyond what we normally would expect. They are serving their patients and, in doing so, are combating an invisible, deadly enemy that is disrupting and damaging our nation.
Communities and individuals across the country have found ways to express gratitude to members of the armed services and healthcare workers. The debt we owe each of them is immeasurable.
There are others, so many others, whose work we have discovered is “essential,” ones that we have tended to take for granted and, in too many cases, paid a wage that amounts to less money than needed for food, clothing and shelter.
Scientists and generals and privates and doctors and hospital orderlies and custodians and packing plant eviscerators are exposing themselves to our enemies to make sure that we are safe, have healthcare and food on the table. Clerks in groceries and other “essential” businesses are there because we need them.
Some people work for love of the work, and some do it as a duty, but others do it because they cannot afford not to. No matter their reason, and no matter their job, they are working, and they are serving us. How can we, in good conscious, not honor them?
When I go out of the house to bring home food, I am disappointed to see how many people appear not to honor or care for those people who are serving our country. It was not an isolated occurrence, but recently as I waited in the parking lot of a large store for an employee to bring my groceries, I saw dozens of customers coming out of and going into the building. Far less than half were wearing masks.
Refusing to wear a mask is blatantly disregarding the health of your fellow Americans. It certainly is not honoring them.
Everyone has heard the claim: It is my right not to wear a mask. You cannot force me.
Yes. As things stand today, every person in this country has a right not to wear a mask. But every person who goes into a public place, or close to strangers, has a responsibility to wear a covering and protect others from the invisible enemy.
The people who are still working are serving us. We need them. If you can’t honor them, at least protect them. You need them.