We Have Come Upon Tough Times
We’ve come upon tough times. America too, has come upon tough times. We are all in this together, and together we will get through this. We always have, and America always will. America, the worlds most powerful, productive, prosperous and peaceful nation on the face of this earth. A nation, until the very recent past, boast a strong and sound economy. An economy fueled in large part, by the engines of small business and the loyal hard working men and women they employ.
And now, just last week, over 3 million of Americas valued workforce filed for unemployment claims. A number nearly 6 times greater than ever before. And sadly, that number is expected to rise. Americas engines have begun to idle down. How long can the U.S. economy withstand such a decline? No one really knows. I watch the workforce decline locally, as government officials close all non-essential businesses. Fear is a powerful emotion, and Americans are responding by emptying store shelves of necessities they fear will be in short supply or worse yet, completely unavailable.
So during this time of a national crisis, should we allow intervention by the federal government? Absolutely! The federal government was created first and foremost to protect the citizens of the United States. But we must closely monitor action taken by the federal government, including actions taken by state and local governments. As we allow them expanded powers and spending during this crisis, which we now have done, it is that expansion of power and spending, that the nature of the beast, government, is too often so unwilling to relinquish. It is our duty as citizens to stay informed and involved with decisions/measures taken by government officials during this crisis, and see that they are held accountable for their actions on our behalf.
Some areas of our economy, certainly among many others that are stressed to the max during this pandemic include; doctors, hospitals and healthcare professionals providing care to those critically affected by the virus; research and development labs scrambling in search of a vaccine/cure; companies that have stepped up to manufacture needed medical supplies and testing kits; the trucking industry, responsible for getting medical supplies, groceries, and other goods and necessities to all essential outlets; (and yes, if you bought it at the store, it arrived there on a truck!) and the one constant service provider that has been part of America for nearly 230 years, the United States Postal Service.
The USPS provides a service that touches the lives of over 300 million Americans. Directly or indirectly, employees of the USPS touch the lives of those Americans each and every day. From the clerk that accepts the letter/parcel at the counter, to the trucker hauling it to a sorting facility, then on to the distribution center for delivery to a local post office, and finally for delivery to the customer. Truly is a team effort, at the core of an infrastructure, serving the entire United States of America.
I’ve watched the USPS operate since the days of 9/11 and the ensuing aftermath. I’ve seen their response to disasters such as hurricane Katrina. I’ve noticed the response of the USPS to tornado’s, floods, blizzards, wildfires, and now, the pandemic. When parts of America suffered hardships, the USPS delivered. In the aftermath of natural disasters, the USPS delivered. And now in the midst of a national pandemic, the USPS continues to deliver. Through them all, the employees of the USPS stepped up and delivered. Delivered throughout a nationwide infrastructure that provides necessary and critical services to all of America. And doing so now, while facing an enemy, an invisible enemy every day, to provide a critically needed service.
I have read concerns from both postal customers and USPS employees regarding the dangers of spreading the virus. Indeed, a valid concern. A concern that should be constantly evaluated and addressed, to keep safe, both the USPS employees and their customers, those 300+ million Americans and the many businesses they serve, as part of a nationwide effort to power the essential engines of the economy in the most exceptional nation in the world, America.
Exceptional, let’s talk about that. Exceptional, not because we’re better than any other country, exceptional because we are different than any other country. America, founded on a new concept; self governance. America, founded as a constitutionally guided, democratically elected, Representative Republic. Representative Republic; a state in which sovereign power, the power of each individual as we go to the polls, is invested in representatives; representatives chosen by the people, from among the people, to govern the people. So you see, our government is in fact, “We The People”. Three words, cherished by our Founding Fathers. Words that begin the Preamble to our Constitution. A Constitution allowing the strength and power of our government to be limited by the American citizens, “We The People”.
I reflect back to the America from the days of its founding, through the many challenges of past centuries, to the health pandemic we face here today. In times of crisis, men and women from all walks of life have stepped forward to protect America, its citizens, and our way of life. Many have sacrificed in different ways to keep the America they knew a better place for them and their posterity. Now is not the time, nor has it ever been in past history, to now sacrifice America for a better — what? There is no better way of life on earth than here in America! Now, it is our turn, as an essential part of the workforce, to step up and do the same.
To those of you uncertain about the decision to continue delivery, I ask you seek out a veteran for some advice. Shouldn’t be too hard to find one. The USPS is one of the largest employers of Veterans in America. Veterans are people that, when they look into the mirror, they not only see what everyone else sees, a familiar face, they reflect a lot more. First, I ask that you thank them for their service to America. Then ask them about sacrifice. Ask them about functioning while in harms way. Ask them about respect for our flag and for America. You will come away a far more enlightened person. I did. And you may be surprised at the reflection you see the next time you look in the mirror.
I once asked a combat veteran; was it difficult to learn to hate to be able fight in battle? The response was not what I expected and went something like this; “I fought not because I hated so much what was in front of me, the enemy. I fought because I love so much of what is behind me; my family, my faith, my friends, my home, and my country.” Stop for a moment and think about that! Let that sink in!
I want to share with you, the entire workforce of the USPS, two words that have come to be so meaningful to me. Words often used by a man I admired and wanted to meet, but didn’t get the chance. His name, Dick Winters. Those words; “Hang Tough”. I hope during this time of social distancing you will research Mr. Winters and read about a man that truly was an American hero. A hero in the sense that he cherished the value of freedom, and understood the huge responsibility that comes with it. Truly a leader that embraced responsibility, stood in harms way on many, many occasions, and delivered for America.
You may be wondering why I singled out the USPS. Well, my grandfather delivered mail from the old Post Office in North Clymer many years ago, possibly during the 1940’s when his three sons were called to war; and my dad, one of those World War II veterans, was a substitute letter carrier in Clymer back in the 1960’s. But it’s because, I am also one of you. One of the nearly 600,000 members of a team that is at the moment of this writing, delivering for America.
I have been the rural route 1 carrier here in Clymer, N.Y., for the past 20 years. I go to work six days a week not in fear of the viral crisis, but instead with pride for being a part of a workforce that delivers for America and its citizens in need during this pandemic crisis. And I cannot do my job without the assistance and the team work of the entire USPS workforce. Thank you, to all of you, for all you do! And keep up the good work!
In closing, to all essential workers on the front lines of this crisis, “Hang Tough”. Stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you for all you do. The future of America and many of its citizens are in your gifted and gracious hands. The near future will not be easy, but you will help America overcome this horrible adversity. The foot print you leave during this crisis, will become the pivotal turning point for this challenging time in America. History will look back, and see that America has become a better place because of all of you. That is indeed, an incredible legacy. Godspeed to you all.
Jon M. Babcock is a rural letter carrier and a Clymer resident.