By Scott Robertson
Editor’s note: Scott Robertson is on vacation this week and wishes you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Here is an edited version of his 2013 Thanksgiving edition column.
I’m hoping some very important people will see this column today, because they won’t be able to read it tomorrow morning. Unlike most of us, they’ll be working, you see.
And no, I’m not talking about the retail employees who this year will be forced to work on Thanksgiving Day as more and more stores ignore the holiday (Though I do empathize with the folks who would rather be at home with their families than ringing in “gray Thursday”).
I’m talking about the folks who will wear scrubs or lab coats, providing care to the hospitalized and infirmed.
I’m talking about those who drive ambulances, air rescue helicopters, fire engines and crash trucks.
And I’m talking about those serving in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
On Thanksgiving Day, many Americans will thank God for the blessings bestowed upon us. But before we reach that day, let us take a moment to directly thank those who serve so that we may have the freedom, the health and the opportunity to do so.
To you who work in healthcare and who will be in hospitals or senior living centers while most of us are with our families, thank you. When we are in hospitals as patients, we are so concerned with our own health, we often overlook your sacrifices on our behalf. When we go to visit family in hospitals or care facilities, we notice you even less. Yet we depend on you. We depend on your dedication, your compassion, your self-sacrifice on our behalf, and your willingness to put our needs above your own. When we are at our worst, you are at your best, helping us through it. Thank you.
To you who protect and serve as part of our law enforcement community, thank you. Crime statistics tell us that as the weather cools, the crime rate drops. But you know that heart-breaking, family-rending crimes such as domestic violence don’t drop as autumn turns to winter. It’s you who will be there Thursday, policing the streets for the drivers who have had one (or more) too many and answering the calls from homes where gratitude seems an ironic concept at best. When the desperate, the irrational and the unscrupulous are at their worst, you are at your best, protecting us all. Thank you.
To you who find yourselves called away at a moment’s notice to deliver someone in an emergency situation to a place of care, thank you. Here’s what you do. Just up the road in Hawkins County last year, a lifesaving crew pulled a man from a creek during the holiday season. His body temperature was 72 degrees. He was in cardiac arrest for 109 minutes before his heart began beating normally again. Between the EMS crew and the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital emergency department team, 15 defibrilations were performed. The man was all but dead. But these caregivers would not let him go. They successfully brought him all the way back. That’s who first responders are. When we are nearest death, you are at your best, saving us. Thank you.
And it goes without saying that we thank those who serve our country. We would not even have the freedom to express our gratitude without you. Many of you will spend Thursday far from your families. Perhaps you’ll get a chance to Skype or call home for a quick few moments, perhaps not. Some of you will spend the day on a relatively comfortable base here in the U.S. or in a friendly country. Others will stand guard over embassies in cities where you’ll wonder if you’re in the next Tehran, Benghazi or Beirut. But no matter where you are, you will already have earned our gratitude. Where the world is at its worst, you are at your best. Thank you.
Finally, we would do well to thank one other group of individuals who’ll be busy Thanksgiving Day. Many of our clergy will be doing the work to which they have been called. Some will be volunteering at shelters. Others will be helping organizations such as Family Promise, which helps provide for working poor families. Some will be doing their usual rounds of visitation to shut-ins and hospitalized parishioners. On a day when it might be lamented that too many of us have lost sight of the meaning of Thanksgiving, you exemplify that meaning through your actions. You show those who have precious little that a spirit can be precious. When the rest of us face our own trials of Job, you are at your best, steadfastly pointing the way to the light. Thank you.
To all of you, we send our thanks. Please know that while you’re working on our behalf Thursday, some of us will take at least a moment to thank God for the blessing that you are.