Thursday, November 3, 2011

Serving the United States in the Hour of Our Nation's Need

When  colleague of mine retired a few years ago, I inherited his files (and his work) and found a framed poster from the days back when his career began. I put it up on the wall in my office:

Our Role in the New Frontier
Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man's rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget. Let it be clear that this Administration recognizes the value of daring and dissent--that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and honor in future years: "I served the United States Government in the hour of our nation's need."
John F. Kennedy
President of the United States
From his State of the Union Message
January 30, 1961  

Those are some nice thoughts we don't hear a lot, if ever. Instead, we have presidents who claim "government is the problem." And there are whole political movements and parties based on that premise leading me to the question, "if your political philosophy is that government is the problem, why would we want to trust you to govern?"

I know, I know, we're broke and in debt and it's all the government's fault. Except that my whole political philosophy and premise, in the words our our Founders and the later emphasis by Lincoln at the cost of much blood including his own, is that We the People are the government that is of, by and for the People. We the People seem to have abdicated our responsibility to professional politicians and the influence of the almighty dollar--the false god on which we imprint our trust.

All hope is not lost for me. I had to take down the picture--a copy of the official portrait--of our current president because a message went out to all federal employees to do so when he officially announced his candidacy for reelection. And by the way, I don't recall that happening with any other administration in my 28 years of federal employment going back to Reagan's first term. In place of that picture, I taped a copy of a letter I received attached to an email, to the framed message from President Kennedy. It reads as follows:

The White House
April 11, 2011
To all Federal Employees:
Late Friday evening we reached an agreement on the budget that will keep the Government open. I know the past few weeks have been a time of uncertainty and concern for you and your families, but your patience and professionalism throughout this entire period have affirmed my confidence in you and everyone who works for our Government.
You do your jobs without complaint or much recognition. But it is men and women like you who help make America all it is, by responding to the needs of our people, and keeping our country safe and secure. And so, I want to thank you not only for your forbearance in recent weeks, but for the service you render each and every day to the United State of America.
Barack Obama

Fifty years is a long time between pats on the back. I'll put his picture back up next November Seventh. 

1 comment:

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