Just as we are grateful for America’s men and women in the military, now is the time to thank the thousands of South Carolina public servants who make our state safer during Hurricane Florence and other storms.

Ahead of Florence, the state activated more than 2,100 guardsmen. They joined 3,000 Department of Transportation workers and 1,200 state law enforcement officers. At the state Emergency Operations Center in Columbia, another 400 people manned telephones, barked orders, and coordinated with colleagues from Little River to Seneca. Then came the thousands of police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and others who united in the massive effort to help South Carolinians as Hurricane Florence threatened and smacked into the Palmetto State.

It’s more than a job for these folks. It’s a calling to keep everyone safe.

Their public service is a gift to us all. All too often, we take for granted the sacrifices made by all government workers — from first responders and emergency personnel to teachers, librarians, elected officials, canine control officers, and even the governor.

This most recent storm, which kept the state on tippy-toes for a week, reminds us to step back a little to recognize those who spend time away from their families during this time of crisis as well as day after day in their regular jobs.

Thank you for putting up with long hours, pay that is too low, sometimes grumpy members of the public, and the government-haters who sour just about any interaction.

Thank you for teaching our children, protecting our homes, and making our streets safer. Thank you for keeping the peace, ensuring things run on time, protecting our natural resources, crafting laws that generally make sense, and trying to keep us healthy. Despite too-frequent complaints of too many regulations, too much red tape, and too many delays, thank you for putting up with us without the appreciation you deserve.

If it were not for the dedicated men and women who keep the state ticking in good times and bad, imagine what life would be like. Instead of having a team of people who make our lives easier, we’d all have to be more self-sufficient. We’d have to take care of the educating, protecting, building, and all sorts of other stuff every single day. Without government, there wouldn’t be time for much more beyond a subsistence lifestyle. And surely, there wouldn’t be time for the gadgets, games, phones, televisions, and things that entertain us during leisure time. In fact, there wouldn’t be much of anything called leisure time because we’d mostly be just plain tired every evening after a full day of surviving.

So in the days after Hurricane Florence is done thrashing like a fish on a dock, give a nod or a tip of the hat to that worker in the sanitation department or the policeman in line at a fast food joint. It will mean a lot.

Something else that’s pretty neat about any storm of this magnitude is how it ties you closer to your neighbors and community. People are nicer. Nastiness and politics go by the wayside.

Look at the great example in the gubernatorial campaign between incumbent GOP Gov. Henry McMaster and Democratic challenger James Smith. During Florence, it went on hold.

A pat on the back to McMaster and his team who spent hours at the state’s command center to provide frequent briefings to remind people to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

And a big nod to Smith for leaving the campaign trail when he was called up for duty with the S.C. Army National Guard.

“I was in the room when he got word he was being called up,” Smith’s running mate, Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell (D-Lancaster) told us as the storm zoomed towards the coast. “He immediately arranged to get his hair cut and get in uniform to go and serve.

“He went from being a candidate for governor to being a soldier in a single moment because that’s what his state needed from him. James’ life is about service and he’s proud to do this.”

Most state and local government employees in the Palmetto State have the same zeal for public service. Let them know you know what they do.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@statehousereport.com.

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