November 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm #180803
It’s the topic on the news, restaurants like Applebees/Outback offer free meals, and we all take a step back to reflect and honor.
That’s really awesome and I think unique.
What’s also interesting is there’s really not a public service day – yes, there’s Public Service Recognition Week but it’s not mainstream at all or in public awareness.
So what do you think?
-Does it make sense we have a Veterans Day and not a Public Service Day?
-Is there a way to get citizens to care about other public servants the way they honor the military?
-Do other countries have a Public Service Day? Or Veterans day?
November 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm #180817
Like you folks, stateside, we have a National Public Service Week here in Canada. It’s well-intentioned I suppose, but there is nothing particularly inspiring about it. I imagine some of that results from the concurrency of it. In other words, “I was working for you last week, and you and everyone else ignored my role/efforts or took them for granted, so what makes THIS week so special?”. I don’t want that to sound sour or cynical. Rather, it illustrates how difficult it is for something to be “special”, when there is an ongoing history of minimal acknowledgement surrounding it. Specialness is hard to achieve without distance.
In contrast, remembering veterans has history behind it, not to mention solemnity (which public service recognition would not have). While not all vets, a disproportionately high number of vets have had something happen to them which can be comfortably categorized as “sacrifice”. It could be their life, their limbs, their physical mobility or health, their peace of mind, their family functioning, some alternate future they might have pursued, or something else. Not sure what public servants “sacrifice” that might require such recognition.
Twenty odd years ago, I was driving an old beat-up car from one coast to the other, and in the middle of nowhere in Montana (which has an awful lot of that!), the car died on me, and I had to perch myself on the bumper in the August heat, with a cardboard sign indicating I needed assistance, while I watched the RVs and motorcycles pass me by. Ten minutes later, a state patrol pulled up, checked me out, and was kind enough to give me a boost, verify my car was working well enough, and send me on my way. While parting, I smiled at the officer, and said “On behalf of myself, and many others of my ilk, I’d like to thank you and humbly apologize for the lie we have perpetrated all these years: there IS a cop around when you need one.” He smiled and took it in the spirit it was offered. I’d rather have the intermittent thanks like that than any sort of public recognition day.
On a more somber note, one of the very best, if not THE best, depictions of veterans I have ever seen in film was these few minutes in David Lynch’s beautiful and moving film “The Straight Story”. Takes a couple minutes to get into it, but well worth the wait. Two old guys, having a beer in a dimly-lit bar in the middle of the afternoon, quietly spilling secrets to each other. If it doesn’t get you where you live, I don’t know what will. There’s old guys like this in every corner of the nation. They don’t talk about it. They’d rather not remember it, or at least overlook the details. But we need to remember they walk among us, and give them the dignity they deserve. It may not have required all that much courage for that sacrifice to have occurred, but took a lifetime of courage thereafter to be good to others, and not to break down under the weight of memory. That’s why there’s a Veterans’ Day and no Public Servants Recognition Day.
November 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm #180815
David B. GrinbergParticipant
Awesome post and questions, Steve. Here’s my 2-cents:
- While it would be worthwhile for public servants to be recognized on a specific day, I don’t think that’s realistic considering the general outlook of the population regarding public service. I think it’s a shame that public servants are too often used like a proverbial punching bag and demonized for political purposes — when just the opposite should be occurring. Thus while I support a Public Service Day in theory, I doubt it’s practical with today’s unfortunate attitude toward public servants generally.
- I don’t think public servants, except perhaps the President, will ever be held in such high regard as the military. However, agencies really need to shine more of a spotlight on all the mission-related good they do to benefit the public on a daily basis. This is especially true in times of national crisis, including responding to natural disasters, uncovering terrorist plots, etc. In short, Uncle Sam needs a PR makeover on steroids, so to speak.
November 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm #180813
David B. GrinbergParticipant
Well put, Mark, and thanks for sharing the video clip!
November 12, 2013 at 12:16 am #180811
There will never be a “Public Servants Day” on the scale of “Veterans Day”. Nor should there be. And the local populace will never care about the “Public Servants” like they do their Veterans. Public Servants would never put up with the sacrifices that Military members do (and by implication, Veterans have done). Trying to compare public service with military service is almost degrading to those that served in the Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made, some even the ultimate sacrifice. To get a good feel for it, go down to the Veterans Administration Medical Center there in DC and just walk around for a while and observe. You will see the last few of the WW2 Veterans, the Korean War Veterans, Viet Nam Vets, and on to the young Vets that are just back from Afghanistan. That will be the most sobering experience as to the implications of the sacrifices that were made by our Nation’s Veterans. To refresh all concerning Veterans Day. Originally, it was called Armistice Day (in some countries it is called Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day, Poppy Day, in reference to the fields of Flanders), and was celebrated on November 11, the day Germany and by default the Triple Alliance surrendered during WW1. [Yes, I brought out the bagpipes, tuned them up, and played Amazing Grace at 11am this morning.] And, it is celebrated in the Allied countries to honor all those had sacrificed to win what was then thought to be the War to end all Wars. A small trip through Europe, off the tourist path, will reveal that every little village has the War Memorial with the names of those that had paid the ultimate sacrifice. The true impact can never be understood, until you see a village of 300 to 350 people, and under “The Great War” you will see 30 or more names, then under WW2 see another 30 or more names. In some of these villages, that would mean almost an entire generation gone. Then came WW2, and after such, in a small town called Emporia, KS, the first Veterans Day was celebrated to honor all Veterans that had served and died on November 11. The parade had WW1 Veterans and WW2 Veterans marching in it. From there it grew and finally the name was officially changed to Veterans Day, a National Holiday. Veterans Day, for the most part, in the United States, has evolved to be more for those that survived the wars, while Memorial Day (which had it’s roots since right after the Civil War) was for those that had made the ultimate sacrifice. No, there should not be a “Public Servant Day”. Having a Public Servants day, is like having a Farmers Day, a Mechanics Day, or any other type of job day. It’s a far cry from being an analyst at Census, or an HR Specialist at OPM, and being a soldier/marine involved in a fire fight be it whatever war they are in. It’s a far cry from being a clerk in a nice air conditioned office in say Treasury, and humping it in the jungles of Central America, or the desert in Iraq/Afghanistan, or in any number of the hot spots our service members are serving. And it’s a far cry from going to Massachusetts for 2 weeks of training, and being deployed for 9 to as many as 18 months in a combat zone. No, there is no need for a “Public Servants Day”.
November 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm #180809
Dale M. PosthumusParticipant
– Yes, it makes sense to recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families. I would not support an all-encompassing public servants day, but that does not mean they do not desreve recognition. If we have a public servants day, then what about a private sector day? Millions of people are providing our food, building our cars and buildings, taking care of us when we are sick, and supporting the public sector. When would it stop.
– The best way to improve public servant reputation is to do your job, do it well, work to serve the public in an efficient, polite, respectful way. Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated. That applies to both public and private sector employees.
– The question was asked if schools should close. I would prefer they stayed open and devoted a significant part of the day to instruction and discussions on Veterans Day.
November 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm #180807
I like your idea on schools closing versus open and devoted to instructions on the topic.
November 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm #180805
Veterans Day is meaningless, and is not related to veterans. Parades and politicians obviating are the main fare. Of course the ubiquitous sales. Once the day is over veterans are forgotten for the next 364 days. We still have to wait for years for our DVA claim to be processed, and then re-processed. For federal jobs, the frustrations and the fighting specials interests for jobs attempting to prevent us from being hired are still there. Veterans Day is purely that which is left by the male of the bovine species as he tiptoes through meadow. The only way veterans preference to be enforced is through MSPB and the Court of Appeals for the Federal circuit. General George S. Patton’s prescription for winning was, “Twist their noses and run around and kick them in the butt.”
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