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The American Spirit is Stronger Than Ever Before

By Sen. John Thune

April 24, 2020

The American people have faced adversity before, and if history has taught us anything, we likely will again. While the challenges are never the same, the strength and determination with which America faces them is as predictable as the sun rising in the east. Look around, and there are examples in every corner of the country that prove it’s true. Kindness, generosity, and gratitude – hallmarks of the American spirit – are stronger than ever before, and people are rising to the occasion, whether they’re rushing to the frontline or social distancing and spending more time at home.

“Thank you.” We say it a lot, but it seems to carry more weight these days. Especially when we see doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in South Dakota and around the country unexpectedly finding themselves at the forefront of America’s borderless battle with an enemy that attacks with indiscriminate force. Given the talent and dedication of our nation’s medical community, we shouldn’t be surprised by their willingness to serve during times like these, but the challenges they’re confronting still seem unimaginable to a lot people.

While doctors and nurses are often recognized for their heroism, and rightfully so, the coronavirus crisis has shown that heroes walk among us in what many would have considered the unlikeliest of places. Just a few months ago, many Americans probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to seeing a fully stocked grocery store shelf, having their mail or packages arrive on time, or getting food delivered to a front door. Grocery store workers, delivery drivers, maintenance workers, cleaners, and garbage collectors, just to name a few, are helping provide the goods and services we need, but perhaps never thought we’d require quite like we do today.

We also owe a big thank you to the hardworking men and women who, even in the midst of a global pandemic, are still producing the food on which we rely. South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers are the best of the best, and despite plenty of obstacles, they’re still doing everything they can to help feed and support their communities, state, nation, and world, for that matter.

The list of those to thank is long – police officers, fire fighters, first responders, teachers, and, honestly, everyone who calls South Dakota home. We’re in this fight together, and together, we’re all learning what it takes to battle this pandemic in our new, yet temporary, daily lives. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone who has reached out to me to offer their advice and suggestions, especially as Congress continues to respond to this crisis. Despite the hurdles the last few weeks have presented, we’ve been finding innovative ways to stay connected through virtual events, like tele-town halls, Skype meetings, Facebook Live, and other digital communication platforms.  

No one likes adversity. No one likes to be inconvenienced. No likes to feel like they’re not in control of the situation. In challenging times like these, I find that my faith is strengthened, and I have a greater appreciation for my friends and family. I hope my fellow South Dakotans can find similar bright spots in what’s an otherwise difficult situation. Pessimism is easy, but optimism can win if we let it.