The best of us. The worst of us.

It was Memorial Day 2009, and President Barack Obama spoke:

“If the fallen could speak to us, what would they say? Would they console us? Perhaps they might say that while they could not know they’d be called upon to storm a beach through a hail of gunfire, they were willing to give up everything for the defense of our freedom; that while they could not know they’d be called upon to jump into the mountains of Afghanistan and seek an elusive enemy, they were willing to sacrifice all for their country; that while they couldn’t possibly know they would be called to leave this world for another, they were willing to take that chance to save the lives of their brothers and sisters in arms.

“What is this thing—this sense of duty? What tugs at a person until he or she says, “Send me”? Why, in an age when so many have acted only in pursuit of the narrowest self interest, have the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of this generation volunteered all that they have on behalf of others? Why have they been willing to bear the heaviest burden?

“Whatever it is, they felt some tug; they answered a call; they said, “I’ll go.” That is why they are the best of America, and that is what separates them from those who’ve not served in uniform: Their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met.”

Today, just eleven years later, we live in a alternate reality. Where co-eds wearing flag-themed bathing suits pack themselves into waist-deep pools to drink and “celebrate” our fallen soldiers, virus be damned.

Where middle-aged men with beer guts and AR-15s march proudly through state legislatures decrying their leaders’ tyrannical demand that they wear a face mask for 15 minutes while they shop at Wal-Mart.

Where the lessers of us frantically wave the flag and spit at cameras and the reporters who wield them, defiantly screaming that they’re not afraid of a virus that has killed 100,000 fellow Americans. That Jesus is their vaccine, and “God has my back.”

Meanwhile, there is the silent majority. You, and me.

Those of us who have stayed home, and stayed safe. Not only to protect ourselves and our loved ones. But to protect the little boy with cancer you’ll never meet, or the widow with three beautiful boys – and asthma – who works at the grocery store to make ends meet, or the grandfather with a lifetime of service to our country who deserves more than a lonely deathbed and a mourner-less funeral.

The extraordinary willingness of our service members and their families to rise to the call of the nation and her people in times of turmoil is something to revere.

It’s also a reminder for all of us, that our sacrifices for the benefit of one another and for our country are the height of honor and patriotism. We are not “suckers.”

We are giving what little we can of ourselves for the greater good of our fellow Americans.

Our sacrifice is insignificant compared to what our fallen soldiers and their families have given.

Certainly, we can do this much.

Stay home, stay safe, stay strong.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the week of may 26, 2020

Tuesday: Encourage you mayor to participate in Civic Cities 

When We All Vote’s latest project is all about local government. The organization is reaching out to mayors, civic leaders, and local government officials to participate in the Civic Cities initiative. The goal of the initiative is to support mayors as they tackle closing race and age gaps in voter participation. Working with resources provided by When We All Vote, the network of mayors involved in Civic Cities will commit to increasing voter registration and turnout in their cities. 

Call on your mayor to join Civic Cities today! Participating mayoral offices will complete a four phase plan to increase civic participation in their cities. After locating the phone number of your mayor’s office (this website is a useful resource), here’s what you can ask:

Please tell Mayor ____ that I’d like our city to join the Civic Cities initiative. The initiative is run by a non-partisan organization promoting civic engagement and participation. By joining Civic Cities, the mayor commits to playing an active role in closing voter race and age gaps in our elections. Please have the mayor’s staff look into signing up on the website, WhenWeAllVote.org/civic-cities. 

Wednesday: Call Congress to support the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act

Senators Brian Schatz and Lisa Murkowski introduced a bi-partisan bill to the Senate last Friday that would allocate funds to expand telehealth and rural healthcare access. The bill, Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19, is the companion to a House bill introduced in mid-April. The COVID-19 death toll is now nearing 100,000 Americans. We need to demand immediate congressional action to increase necessary access to healthcare. 

The Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 bill legislates:

  • $2 billion in funding for the Federal Communications Commissions’ Rural Health Care Program;
  • Increased ability for rural and mobile health clinics to engage in telehealth;
  • Reduction of red tape slowing the transfer of telehealth funds to rural clinics;
  • Expand clinical access to broadband.

Both the House and Senate bills were introduced under bi-partisan leadership. Let’s help grow the momentum of this bill by calling all of our representatives to ask for their support. 

Thursday: Keep advocating for the USPS

The United States Postal Service still needs our help. Not only is the USPS a touchstone of our society, it also represents the best method to keep our elections safe and accessible (see: vote-by-mail). The USPS is in major financial trouble and needs federal relief funds ASAP. Here are three ways you can support the USPS this week:

  1. Buy stamps! Check out this new package of stamps honoring four literary figures from the Harlem Renaissance. 
  2. Call your Senators about the HEROES Act (again!). This bill includes a $25 billion funding package for the USPS – a lifeline for the delivery system AND their 630,000 employees. 
  3. While you’re on the phone, ask (again!) about legislation that keeps elections safe. Tell the office that you support Sen. Warren’s plan to expand vote-by-mail using these Indivisible talking points

Friday: Email DHS Acting Secretary Wolf about reuniting and freeing families in immigrant detention centers 

This recent opinion piece in the Washington Post reminds us that we must remain diligent in our fight to help unite families and their children detained at the border. Families are still being forced to decide between indefinite detention with high COVID-19 contagion risk or separation from their children. RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, has organized an email that directly addresses the horrors outlined in the Washington Post article. Fill out this form to send a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Wolf demanding united families be released to their sponsors in the U.S. to complete their asylum claims. Families need to be together and safe, especially during a health pandemic.

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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