A Proposal For A National Holiday For First Responders

Thank You First Responders!

This is the body of a letter I sent to Congressman Adam Smith and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. It is the basis of the motion I made at the 7 May General City Council Meeting.

The idea came to me about a month ago after a conversation I had with an old New York friend who had been hospitalized with COVID-19. Unfortunately, one of the nurses taking care of him got the disease and died.

There is a National First Responders Day (NFRD) created by Congress in 2017. NFRD is celebrated on October 28th. However, I would like to suggest two improvements:

  1. Move the day to the first Monday in April. The symbolism being that this roughly coincides with the ‘peak’ of the COVID-19 outbreak. There is also a practical consideration: it is far enough between two surrounding National Holidays (Washington’s Day and Veterans Day) to make it practical.
  2. Make it a true National Holiday, with the same legislative effect as Washington’s Day and Memorial Day. This will allow for truly significant remembrance and appreciation to be bestowed on First Responders. The current emergency has demonstrated that they are (and will continue to be) equivalent in importance and honour to the other brave people who protect and defend the nation.

And hopefully, this National Holiday might also have the salutory effect of keeping the idea of ‘readiness’ in the public mind. Sadly, pandemics, disasters and other national emergencies are now an expected part of life and we all should be reflecting on our own preparedness.

2 thoughts on “A Proposal For A National Holiday For First Responders”

  1. Here is a reply I wrote to a councilmember in a neighbour city:

    For -me-, the real point was my last sentence:

    “And hopefully, this National Holiday might also have the salutory effect of keeping the idea of ‘readiness’ in the public mind. Sadly, pandemics, disasters and other national emergencies are now an expected part of life and we all should be reflecting on our own preparedness.”

    The COVID-19 thing has been so poorly handled I kinda feel like we’ve committed some form of national masochism: kill over 100,000 people, destroy the economy for years, add a few trillion to the national debt. Way to go. We’ve got to -learn- to do better.

    My guess is that there will be -another- national disaster like this in the next 5-10 years. Could be another recession. Could be a war. Could be an earthquake. Could be COVID-29. But -something- awful. Whether self-imposed or not, something crappy seems to happen now with regularity. Us Boomers grew up in this ‘golden age’ where not a lot really bad happened here. We thought that was the norm, but we were wrong. Periodic upheaval is the norm.

    And we -gotta- handle it better. It seems to me that it’s worth giving people a day off to -try- to get the public more engaged on ‘preparedness’.

    Another ‘practical’ thing is that it costs City Councils almost nothing to write such a letter. And maybe that gesture alone gets a few people in the community engaged–even though I concede it has low odds of becoming law.

  2. I guess I should’ve expected it, but I’ve gotten -several- emails today asking me to define who is a ‘First Responder’. And I dunno if one -needs- to define specific job descriptions to do this sort of law, but if I were cornered, here’s my first stab:

    A First Responder is someone who walks -towards- danger–not exclusively, but particularly to save lives in an a moment of imminent threat. And this is a part of their primary mission. So for -me- the obvious candidates are police, fire, doctors, nurses, lifeguards, park rangers, sea rescue. But I’m sure there are more.

    I think there are a lot of people who have singular moments where they rise to a singular challenge. But First Responders recognize that putting their own livees to save others is a routine part of their job.

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