Thank you for your service.
Have you noticed? We witness it at the airport, in stores, on the bus. Strangers see someone wearing a military uniform, often camoflage fatigues, and they approach and say it: Thank you for your service. It’s a simple but sincere expression of appreciation for the sacrifice, the risks taken, in our behalf. To make our lives more secure.
Credit this pandemic for heightening our awareness of others deserving our thanks — doctors, nurses, EMTs, all sorts of medical workers, grocery store cashiers, delivery drivers, pastors. And so we witness these expressions of thanks as we numbly navigate through the swamp of fear and changes in our lives. We say it aloud, again and again: Thank you for your service.
Evelyn, our youngest daughter, her husband, Chris, and their two teenage daughters live in that region of Georgia you’ve been reading about and seeing on television network news. Covid-19 infections are high there. Why? Is the prevailing political climate a factor? Trump support is common. So many people refuse to wear a wear masks, they ignore safe distancing advice. “It’s all a hoax,” one teenager told a TV reporter.
In this environment, Evelyn and Chris, both middle school teachers, went back to work last week, ordered to return to their classrooms filled with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. On the first day, most of Evelyn’s students wore masks. On the second day, about half. By the third day, only a few. Keeping them separated physically, particularly in Evelyn’s drama classes, was impossible. When she tried exercises that required them to keep their distance, they ignored her instructions.
Evelyn was exhausted and stressed by week’s end. Her voice hoarse from having to speak for long periods through a mask. She and Chris have many years of experience teaching in the classroom, but never before have they been required to risk their lives doing what they love. But they do it and will return to do it again next week and the next and the next, praying that no one becomes infected by the virus.
My friends, seek out teachers, reach out to them. Tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing for you and your children, they are sacrificing their own health and safety for others.
Tell them: Thank you for your service.