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Sending A Thank You To Public Servants

To The Reader’s Forum:

TIME magazine, besides naming its “Person of the Year”, also named public servants, especially federal employees, as “Guardians of the Year”. TIME recognized the importance of the oath taken by federal employees to protect and preserve the US Constitution, and how certain federal employees, both career and appointed, stood by that oath as they testified before Congress in its formal inquiry into the eventual impeachment of president Trump.

As a former federal employee, I understand the gravity of taking the same oath to protect government information, but also to “do the right thing” to oppose corruption and wrongdoing. However, my service did not involve American foreign policy, as did the actions of foreign service officials dealing with countries like Ukraine. Thus, the risks taken by foreign service officials to report what they knew, or could glean or surmise based on their expertise, is incredible. The stakes affecting themselves, personally, relationships with other countries, and possibly the future of the presidency were and are huge! The fact that they were involuntarily deposed and testified before Congress, in spite of the risks, is a testament of their loyalty to America, first.

During my career, I chose to be a union leader so that I could help protect fellow employees from abuses and to speak out against government waste and fraud. I understood that doing so would likely preclude advancement in my agency and even drew some scorn from a few members of the public for supporting a “union”. I chose that path unapologetically because I believed in my oath of office. Fortunately, I never had to live in fear as do many employees in the American foreign service.

The “New Year” is, traditionally, time to reflect on our hopes for the future. Although recognition of the value of public service is generally given short shrift – we take public service for granted – I want to recognize every true public servant’s contributions. They keep us safe, take care of daily services we come to expect, provide for our health and well-being today and for the future, and choose to do other work that I believe supports the “sacred honor” of public service. I hope they continue to do their best for the American people regardless of the odds they may face. They’re not “faceless bureaucrats”, they’re red-blooded, hard-working people who are the backbone of American society.

Thanks for all you do for America!

Paul L. Demler

Jamestown

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