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Salute those who keep things running


What do you want to be when you grow up?

Parents, teachers and well-meaning family members all ask young people that question on a regular basis.

The answers vary by age and ambition. Some wish to grow up to touch the clouds as pilots or walk among the stars as astronauts. Others seek the fame and glory that can be found on a football field, or basketball court. Many shrug off the question and answer with a noncommittal, “I don’t know.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell described the country’s reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as a wartime level of investment. While McConnell was referencing the $2.3 trillion aid package that was pushed through Congress and signed into law last week, the sentiment carries over into general civilian life.

America, like much of the world, is at war with an unseen enemy. An enemy that waits to attack us hiding behind a handshake or in the embrace of a friend.

In defense against this foe, the government has taken the step of issuing orders for people to remain at home, with the exception of essential businesses. These essential jobs range from grocery store clerks to farmers, and from factory workers to healthcare providers.

On the whole, these are not glamorous jobs filled with prestige and hefty salaries. The people who hold these jobs don’t jet off to private resorts for the weekend or have people breathlessly seeking their autographs when they are out in public.

But perhaps they should.

In a world where the frivolous make fortunes for playing games or pretending to be someone else, it is important to remember and thank those essential workers, who quietly keep the world running in good times and in times of crisis. They may not live in fancy mansions or fly in private jets, but they are the rock upon which all the rest of us rely.

It is an important takeaway from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that the first people benched in the pandemic, were the professional athletes and movie stars. These are the people whose foibles and achievements, typically dominate media coverage at the national and state level, but who, in the grand scheme of things, are highly paid, but non-essential.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds around the globe, there are stories of heroes. Heroes who are doing their jobs ensuring that people are fed, cared for when they become ill and ensuring that while the engine of commerce is idling, that it does not sputter to a complete halt.

These essential employees deserve renewed respect. As America resets its priorities coming out of this crisis, it is important to rethink how these workers are treated and how important they really are to keeping the world running.

Members of the Courier Sentinel editorial board include publisher Carol O’Leary, general manager Kris O’Leary and Star News editor Brian Wilson.