Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

Let’s Add Health Care Workers and First Responders to Those We Remember on Memorial Day

health care workers first responders memorial dayDid you miss someone on Memorial Day? You can be excused if you did, as these particular heroes and heroines may be invisible. Perhaps it’s because they are part of our lives — the health care workers and first responders that are there for us each and every day. But the COVID crisis is a game changer. The doctors, nurses, aides, EMS workers and the cops on the beat face a clear and present danger, yet they do not hesitate to come to our aid despite the deadly threat of infection.

Ordinarily, the purpose of the Memorial Day holiday is to pay tribute to those who have served us in the military—especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  But the honor roll has been expanded this year.  It’s not official but the pandemic has created a new class of warriors to whom we should pay tribute: those who die on the front lines in the war against this new, inhuman and devilishly lethal threat.

These “civilians” are not conscripts; they are volunteers who didn’t hesitate to come to our rescue despite the clear and present danger posed by the disease.  This is not your run-of-the-mill flu.  It’s a plague that is highly contagious, less than six-feet-apart contagious.  Yet they don’t hesitate to get up close and personal to come to the rescue.

So many health care workers, police officers and fire fighters who have tested positive for coronavirus as a result of their readiness to come to the aid of those who suffer from the disease that there is no official count.  But, you can be sure that many thousands of them have, in fact, fallen ill and too many of them have died.  States have been reporting infection rates as high as 20% among physicians, nurses, assistants, technicians, orderlies, administrators, volunteers, drivers, porters, EMTs, police and firefighters.

Bear in mind that while these men and women — first responders, all — may appear to be stout and strong as they stoically go about their work but they are just as vulnerable as you and me.

Dr. Jessica Gold put it this way in an article in STATE magazine recently:  “They inspire us as they go to work every day, at great personal risk, to keep others safe.  But, as a psychiatrist, I spend much of my life observing and listening — I know that their calm surface appearance is the only armor they have left. Underneath it, many health care workers are barely keeping it together. They are anxious and they are afraid. They aren’t sleeping and they find themselves crying more than usual. The overall feeling in my friends, family, and co-workers is one of an impending doom and an existing gloom that is both physically and psychologically palpable.”

Many of us were out playing with our kids and grandkids as the nation observed Memorial Day last Monday.  We’ll probably ate a little too much.  We celebrated the non-official beginning of summer.  We are a resourceful people and surely we were able to find a way to party despite self-isolation, face masks and gloves  But we are also a grateful nation that remembers the sacrifices of our armed forces and our unarmed protectors on the front lines of the war against a new insidious enemy — COVID-19.

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2 months ago

My opinion: No, keep Memorial Day to honor our military. Another day to honor health care workers and 1st responders would be fine, however, Memorial Day should not be changed. I am a retired 1st responder and always felt Memorial Day was special, especially since it is a day set aside to honor and remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

Patricia Larlham
2 months ago

No,no,no. Memorial Day is for honoring the men and women in our armed forces who died serving our great country during war and military action. Start a new remembrance day if you wish to honor the first responders, but don’t allow this bad idea to move forward. Our soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom deserve to be honored, respected and remembered. They belong to a blessed and sacred congregation. Dying on foreign soil, or coming home to die slowly from toxic poisons. Honor the others, yes, but they cannot and should not be integrated with our beloved military… Read more »

Cheryl Reel
2 months ago

No let’s not dilute the tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom, including all in health and first responders. Memorial Day is a sacred remembrance for the fallen soldiers only and needs to stay that way.

2 months ago

Including First Responders to Memorial Day would dilute the meaning of the day, you’re comparing apples & oranges, it would be a poor choice. Check out the list below, it’s possible that the general public just doesn’t know about these dates.

Jan 9th, National Law Enforcement Day
May 4th, National Fire Fighters Dat
May 12,, international Nurses Day
May 17 – 23, National EMT Week
Oct. 28, National First Responders Day

Steve C
2 months ago

Not appropriate. Memorial Day should remain for our military. As a paramedic for 40 years I appreciate the sentiment but would not want to see the reason for Memorial Day changed. I appreciate what our military has done and continues to do. If people feel they need to honor others it should be done at a different time.

2 months ago

Absolutely not! The PC police and people like you have already diluted and destroyed the honor received by lowering of the American flag to half mast for just about anything and for every nobody except maybe the local junkyard dog! You don’t demean Memorial Day by including average civilians who work in a job they are paid for and chose to do. They are not special…. and they certainly are not Heroes for showing up for work! Ms Weber…. you need not expose your cavalier disdain for the military by suggesting such a despicable idea on this board and especially… Read more »

2 months ago

It is wrong to include others on Memorial Day. I am a fireman and my wife a nurse. We do not expect recognition for doing what is our job. Military personnel who paid the ultimate price in order to fight a person who wanted to kill them is completely different then a hyped up virus that has not and never will amount to the deaths of brave men and woman who fully expected to die insuring our freedom. If you do this then next you will include everyone who died from snake bit, dog bite, automobile accidents, and the flu.… Read more »

2 months ago

Absolutely NOT! It’s bad enough the original intent of Memorial Day has been desecrated. Memorial Day is to honor members of the Armed Forces who has given their lives for America. Too many people think Memorial Day is a time to honor all military past and present. That is the purpose of Veterans Day.

Tim Funke
2 months ago

Let’s not. Unless we also add grocery store workers, truck drivers, farmers, trades people, accountants, factory workers, politicians, ( just kidding on the last one), but you get the point. All the above, and others, show up and do their jobs every day To do the job they signed on for, to keep the country running and from time to time, put their lives and safely at risks.

2 months ago

Not an appropriate idea. Already so many “days” for honoring or remembering those who serve in other ways. Perhaps you might try consolidating those into one huge “thank you”‘ day. But don’t confuse their service with Memorial Day. No connection.

2 months ago

I am a first responder and I totally disagree with this idea. As it is already, our society has become too distanced from our soldiers who have laid down their lives to preserve our freedoms.

Marsha B Brown
2 months ago

As I am very grateful, and hold these folks in high esteem, I don’t agree with adding them to our Memorial Day celebration. I think they are working, doing their job, as so many other Americans, and the responsibilities of each of us varies greatly during these times. There are certain ones that stand out as heroes, but too much weight is placed on this type of recognition in our nation today. Every noble action does not need public recognition, as their reward will be eternal.

2 months ago

NO! NO! NO! We should all be grateful for what has been done and accomplished but this is not the same thing! It is not that they are not appreciated, it is just not appropriate! Leave Memorial Day alone and for what it is and has been intended for.

Chief Petty Officer Galles, USN, Ret.
2 months ago

They need a day. But pick one such as Florence Nightengale and use the. Monday closest to her birthday or death day as the day for them. DO NOT MUDDY THE WATERS by diluting the meaning of the day we remember the men and women who gave their all to keep us free enough to be able to remember those who havedied

Tracy J
2 months ago

Memorial Day is to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces of this great nation, not just to honor those who serve or have served in our military. We have other days designated for that.
Our first responders and health care workers need their own day of remembrance.

2 months ago

I agree with the rest of the comments here. Those who have died for our freedom deserve our highest esteem and a day to remember them by without tossing them in with others doing their job. I am 72 and still working in an “essential” job (not considered first responder). I showed up to work while others sheltered at home. One of my daughters is a nurse in Boston, MA, where many fell victim to this disease. Still, I don’t believe our jobs rise to the level of every day danger our soldiers deal with, and they should continue to… Read more »

2 months ago

I disagree – Memorial Day is for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the armed services of our country. Don’t diminish memories of them by tagging on others – especially those who are still serving or living. As a 20 year US Navy veteran I stand up proudly on Veterans day and bow my head on Memorial day.

2 months ago

You are absolutely off base on adding these folks to the Memorial Day holiday. This day is for the recognition of our military, period. Don’t dilute this. If you want to bring attention to these folks, do it on another date.

2 months ago

I think we can honor first responders another way. Memorial Day should NOT be for anyone other than those who sacrificed in the military. Keep it the way it was designed.

2 months ago

No, they didn’t die for our freedom.

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