By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
To a military veteran whose active service spanned Vietnam to Desert Storm, the words “Thank
you for your service” were most welcome. Such words were scarce following Vietnam; that only
made them sweeter following wartime service in the Middle East.
There is a new group of men and women providing service now, during what is described as a
new war: the war against COVID-19. Service is being provided not in some faraway land by
heroes in uniform, but right here and by people in everything from scrubs to jeans to outdoor
work clothes. These are the men and women, old and young, who are still at the job providing
work deemed essential while most of us are enjoined, with increasing urgency, to stay at home.
Who are these essential workers? Some are the “white collar” workers who are able to work on
their normal jobs in a very abnormal way: from their home computers, telecommuting.
Teachers, tax accountants, and newspaper editors (including of The Edgefield Advertiser) fall
into this category of essential workers; our thanks go out to them all, for keeping the wheels of
commerce moving, providing an opportunity for the rest of us to learn, to be kept informed,
and to have the administrative portions of our lives continue as they must; that is the very
definition of essential work.
But others are doing work that is arguably more heroic: continuing to leave their homes to go
to work because their work is essential, and it’s not done online but with their hands, their
arms, and their backs. These are the grocery clerks and managers, the pharmacists, the doctors
and nurses and veterinarians whose service is absolutely necessary for the rest of us to keep
going. Some of these people are well paid professionals, for whom being essential is rewarded
even in normal times; but many are not. They are people whose normal work in most cases
earns them something above the minimum wage, but not by much. The employee who hands
you your take-out dinner, the grocery clerk who wears a mask in an effort to avoid becoming
sick while ringing up his or her 100 th customer that shift, the newly installed security watch at
the gate to the nursing home grounds – these are people who earn our gratitude, as we are
thank them along with the doctors, the nurses, and the cleaning staff at our hospitals.
Also serving us are the agricultural workers in our peach and vegetable industries. Some of
them are seasonal workers whose English is not as good as yours and mine, and some of them
indeed may be here without having all their paperwork in order – but they are essential
workers, too. Not only are they vital to keeping Edgefield County working, COVID-19 or not;
they are vital to keeping food on our tables.
And to each and every one of them, to each and to every one of our readers who fall into any of
those “essential” services, let us all give a heartfelt greeting: thank you for your service!