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Honoring unsung heroes

By Nathan Rice

Heroes. It’s a word that has flooded the news cycle, and it seems to be on everyone’s lips. Social media is flooded with posts in support of medical workers, people have placed signs on their doors thanking delivery drivers, and grocery store clerks have been featured on the front page of newspapers.

These are well-earned accolades, and I am happy that so many people in our country are recognizing those who are working hard during this time of uncertainty. We should be grateful to those who work in the industries that have kept our nation moving during this challenging time, and these posts, notes of thanks, newspaper articles, and signs of respect are a few ways that we show our appreciation.

There are some people, though, who do not fit into any category. Saying, “All of us” or “Everyone who helps” is a great way for a newspaper or company to honor those who are helping others during this time, but I think we can do better at recognizing the individuals who have done things to help us face adversity.

The first thing to do is to pause to consider who has done something to help you since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Has a spouse been extra helpful or kind during this time? Maybe a family member is assisting with child care. Did someone give you a face mask, bring you some needed supplies, send you a card in the mail, bring you your favorite lunch, or check in on you through an electronic message or a telephone call?

Ask yourself the following questions: Who gave me something to help me through this time? Who provided support to me in a way that allowed me to keep going? Who encouraged me through something they did?

Once you have the names of the people who have helped or encouraged you during this time, you can begin to work on some ways to honor them for their support. This does not have to be anything large or over the top.

A thank-you card to the person who gave you the face mask is simple, easy, and inexpensive, but it shows your gratitude and appreciation.

Sometimes a verbal, “Thank you for all you have done. It’s a big help,” is all that is needed. It’s easy to take those who support us for granted, but we should not fail to verbally express our gratitude or to tell them how their support has helped us.

Social media is another way to share our thanks and to honor those who have helped us. A public post can be a sort of “cheers” for that person in this time of physical distancing. A private message expressing gratitude and respect can be a nice surprise for someone when they open their own social media profile.

You may also choose to provide a small gift to those who have helped you. Whether it’s a favorite snack, a bunch of flowers, a small gift card to their favorite store, or a handmade item you think they will enjoy, a small gift is another way to honor these everyday heroes.

There are a lot of heroes working through this time. Many of them are in groups of people that we should all honor. Other, unspoken heroes, who do not fall neatly into a category often receive little recognition. This will only change when each of us takes the time to recognize and honor the heroes in our lives.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.