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essential workers

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Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum
The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will thank First Responders, Frontline Workers, and their families by offering them complimentary admission on Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25, from noon to 5 p.m. “We salute the brave men and women who make sacrifices and face danger every day to respond to emergencies, work the front lines, and keep us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, executive director of the Vanderbilt.
(This includes police and firefighters, emergency medical technicians, teachers and school employees, utility and healthcare workers, cashiers in grocery and general merchandise stores, truck drivers, and people who work in food-processing, maintenance, and agriculture.)

“We’re offering free admission because these people are our neighbors and they provide essential services,” Wayland-Morgan said. “They risk physical injury and exposure to toxic substances and to the coronavirus,” she said. “It’s hard on their spouses, families and children. A fun day at the Vanderbilt is one way to thank them.”

Guests will be asked for ID cards or proof of affiliation.

The Hall of Fishes, the Vanderbilt marine museum, is open as are the collections galleries and the wild-animal dioramas. The Mansion living quarters remain closed. The Reichert Planetarium will remain closed until New York State permits theaters to reopen.

For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The weapons and uniforms are different, but the goals are the same: to protect the interests of Americans everywhere and to save lives.

Every year, Memorial Day presents an opportunity to honor the men and women who served our country in the military, as we appreciate their courage and sacrifice during battles against a range of enemies.

This year, we have a large group of people who are laying their lives on the line for the benefit of society. They are the first responders, who arrive at the homes of people stricken with symptoms of a disease that can make breathing difficult, that can give them a fever for days or even weeks.

They are the nurses who not only take the pulse and blood pressure of their patients, but also provide a human connection when those with the virus can’t have friends and family visit.

They are the doctors who use the best medicine at their disposal to provide comfort until a new standard of care is developed or a vaccine is created.

They are also the police and fire rescue teams that set aside their personal concerns about interacting with members of the community who might be sick to help strangers and the family members of those strangers.

Without these health care workers prepared to help in the struggle against a virus that never takes a weekend off or for which chicken soup, sleep or a hot shower are inadequate to ameliorate the symptoms, Long Islanders would be struggling on their own, infecting each other, and dying at even higher levels.

At the same time, people who work in other fields have been vital to the ongoing functioning of our society in the midst of the pandemic. The people who deliver packages and the mail have connected us to an outside world we can’t visit. They travel through our neighborhoods, wearing gloves and masks and bringing everything from Mother’s Day cards for the mothers and grandmothers we dare not visit lest we are an unsuspecting carrier of the deadly disease, to the paperwork we need to sign.

Those who work in grocery stores stock the shelves with the necessities and luxuries we snap up every week, as we continue to feed families huddled in our homes. Bus drivers and transit workers enable first responders, grocery store clerks, and others to get to and from their jobs.

In addition to accepting their normal responsibilities, these people also go to their jobs in a new normal that requires many of them to wash their clothing and shower before they interact with their family, which some of them only do while wearing masks.

Some of them have died in the line of duty. They have made the ultimate sacrifice because their difficult jobs haven’t provided them with an immunity from a virus that threatens everyone.

This Memorial Day, we should honor the fallen from past wars, the soldiers who fought in Europe 75 years ago, the ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, those who trudged through the jungles of Vietnam, and the patriots who ensured our freedom during the founding of the country.

We should also honor the fallen victims of the virus who were on the front lines, armed with personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns and face coverings. 

When we wave our flags and honor those who gave their lives, we should pray for and thank the heroes of the last few months as well. They put themselves in harm’s way and inspired the rest of us with the same kind of courage we celebrate each year from our armed forces.

SPREADING SUNSHINE A homemade sign in front of a home on Blue Point Road in Selden on May 2 thanks those on the frontlines. Photo by Heidi Sutton
2020 Heroes

Goodness may surround us,

In the least expected place,

Anonymously given

And left without a trace.

A favor from a neighbor,

Food left by the door,

A funny joke that’s sent

And leaves us hoping for some more.

Supermarket staff who are

Quick with ready smiles,

Who offer help and guidance,

Amid some empty aisles. 

Sanitation workers,

Those who bring the mail,

Instructors at computers

Teaching students to prevail. 

The nurses and the doctors,

Hidden by their masks,

Selflessly report each day

To undertake their tasks. 

Those who follow orders

To hunker in their homes,

And face their isolation

With humor and aplomb.

Leaders we rely on

Not to drop the ball.

These, the caring givers,

Are heroes to us all.

                                                       By Ellen Mason, Stony Brook