During the week of Christmas I was reminded of the spirit of generosity that we take for granted and brings us comfort, protection, and invaluable joy. Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, and I had the happy fortune of receiving the gift of an unscheduled visit with some our National Guardsmen and women.
We witnessed first hand their around the clock work in bringing relief to our COVID-19-riddled communities through the distribution of thousands of tests and vaccines. They were tired but content in their labors and plans in aiding our fellow West Virginians.
After we left, but before we got on the road, a young Guardsman met us at our cars to thank us for showing up and showing an interest in their work. He told us that it meant a lot because all too often they toil in secret — too proud to call for attention — and consequently feel that the public do not know or think about their service. We informed that we were the lucky ones and appreciated his and their personal sacrifice in serving the greater good.
As I got down the road, I thought about what our National Guardsmen and women have done over the last 20 years. In that time, they have been deployed on multiple and many occasions to war zones the world around. They provided significant and essential aid following the Derecho in 2012. They coordinated and organized the distribution of life saving water following the Water Crisis in 2014. They saved lives during and after the floods of 2016. This past spring and summer they distributed lunches to hungry children and families throughout our state.
And finally, they have distributed thousands of COVID-19 tests, PPE and vaccines to our people in need of care, assistance and reassurance. We would be lost without them. And they do all this without publicity or asking and expecting a thank you.
Pray for our National Guardsmen and women, give thanks for their service, and wish them a happy new year. Such a simple gesture of appreciation goes a long way.