First responders do not have the ability to change the course of an event; but their interventions can help make any situation better. These unique individuals are committed to protecting and serving communities to their very best ability; and to do so with skill and compassion. At times it truly can seem like a thankless job, and it can make you question your own sanity. But then there are times when something happens, someone notices, someone thanks you and you feel validated and appreciated enough to gear up for the next disaster. And you can’t imagine doing anything else.
The goal of a National First Responder Appreciation Day would be designed to further open communication lines between first responders and the public, while affording the public an opportunity to show their appreciation to these brave men and women. This continued dialogue would enable individuals to work together to ensure safer communities.
There are many obstacles to obtaining a proclamation for National First Responder Appreciation Day. Well, actually there is only one, but it is a multi-faceted doozy – politicians. U.S. law provides for the declaration of selected public observances by the President of the United States as designated by Congress, or by the discretion of the President (President Obama could make this proclamation all by himself). Generally the President will provide a statement about the purpose and significance of the observance, and call on the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. These events are designed to honor or commemorate a public issue or social cause, ethnic group, historic event, or special individual. Many of these observances designated by Congress are authorized by law under Title 36, U.S. Code, in which cases the President is under obligation to issue an annual proclamation.
The National First Responder Appreciation Day bill has passed in the Senate. And it is currently being promoted in the House by Congressman Michael Capuano from Massachusetts who wants “better recognition for the first responders who put themselves in harm's way”. Capuano drafted the legislation in response to the online petition for this appreciation day posted by Andrew Collier. This legislation, unfortunately, has been put on a back burner in Congress secondarily to the recent government shutdown. But fear not, first responders are not quitters.
Things First Responders can do to Make National First Responder Appreciation Day a Reality
The sacrifices that first responders have made should never be forgotten. 26,750 supporters have already signed the petition: “United States Congress: Designate a national holiday honoring America's first responders”. 73,250 more signatures are needed to reach the goal of 100,000. Massachusetts Congressional Representative Michael Capuano has agreed to sponsor the legislation, but requires the petition signatures to move forward. The harsh reality is that he needs at least a million to make the holiday a reality. There are over 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States; this can be done.
Click here to sign this petition now. < http://www.change.org/firstresponders >
Go a little further; send this link to your friends, family members, and colleagues. Share it on whatever social media site you use: Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Etc. If you want to contact President Obama’s office about the proposed holiday here is the contact info: < http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments> and/or call the comment line with a request at 202-456-1111
Additionally get the word out to the public. A recent study demonstrated that although 94% of the population believes first responders deserve more recognition and support for the work they do, only 32% have supported a first responder cause. It looks like people want to support first responder awareness but don’t know what to do. The next time someone asks you if there is anything they can do for you or the department ask them to go online and sign the petition. (Plus it is a whole lot safer than homemade food).
Come on, guys and gals, let’s roll. You deserve this, and then some.
On a personal note, as Thanksgiving approaches I want you to know that I am grateful for all first responders, especially those who work on holidays when tragedies are twice as hard and miracles are doubly special. Gobble Gobble.