Yesterday I had one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences in my professional career, I testified before the United States Senate Committee on Aging about the amazing work you all are doing and how home health care is an essential resource for older Americans. I was part of, what I felt to be, a truly thoughtful and fact-based dialogue about the serious issues facing seniors and their families—especially those who need support services and long term care during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. It was not a particularly partisan event, it was really about problems and solutions, and I am optimistic (though not certain) that the next round of legislation from the Senate will have components that help strengthen home care services and support front-line workers. There’s a lot of vitriol, division, and conflict surrounding the current political environment—but, still yesterday I felt reassured and proud that citizens (and citizen representatives) can come together from diverse perspectives and try and work together to build a greater future.
Why was I so fortunate, so blessed, to be able to participate in the Senate work yesterday? I’m not a big donor or powerbroker, I don’t know any of the Senators, so I was a bit surprised when they asked me, but I am grateful because I felt I had something important to share about the work we are doing and the difference we can make. With respect to the broader political environment, this 2020 election year will be intense, as election years generally are, and I’m sure the collegiality and fact and empathy based discussion I was part of in the Aging Committee will not be the same feel for all the upcoming debates, commercials, rallies, etc. But, I do still expect that the voters will be heard and that to the extent there are any changes with new people being voted in, I am optimistic that there will be peaceful and collegial transitions in the various roles and offices impacted.
I believe one of the biggest and most important reasons, if not the most important reason, we have a political system that still includes thoughtful dialogue like what I experienced yesterday and why we will have another free and peaceful election this year is because of the men and women of our military—who over the years have been so brave, so committed to our country and our principles, that so many have given their lives fighting for the cause. Just last night we saw an example of how fragile freedom can be as China is threatening to diminish the power of the people of Hong Kong with new restrictions—We remain free, imperfect, but free and we owe so much to those who have fought and died for this freedom.
On this Memorial Day weekend, I will be reflecting on the unique opportunity I had to participate in the work of the United States Senate and how the love and support of my family (here and gone) and the encouragement and inspiration of my friends and colleagues made it possible—–and, I will think about how much we owe to the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom—and our servicemen and women who have sacrificed for the principals of democracy in other parts of the world, helping to end the march of dictators and tyrants that killed and tortured so many worldwide—and who have sacrificed to make it possible for people from all over the world to flee oppression to our shores of liberty and freedom. I will probably fire up a few of my favorite songs this weekend (hopefully on a “socially distanced” walk by the beach)–songs that honor the country and those that serve and sacrifice and also those that touch on the tragedy and injustice of war and those who have lost –Lee Greenwood “God Bless the USA,” Whitney Houston Version of “God Bless America,” Tim McGraw “If You’re Reading This,” Zac Brown “Dress Blues,” Kenny Chesney “Jesus and Elvis,” Neil Diamond “America,” Springsteen “Born in the USA,” and Edwin Star “War,” Marvin Gay “What’s Going On.” I’m admittedly a sucker who can’t listen to most of these songs without my eyes welling up a bit. I will also say a few prayers for peace and strength.
Thank you to everyone in the VNA Health Group family who have served and risked your life for our great country, and we are all especially thinking of those of you who have lost loved ones in service of the United States of America, please accept our immense gratitude and most sincere sympathies—I know that it is their sacrifice and their willingness to sacrifice that has made it possible for us to be here today, and that gave me the opportunity this week to participate in a still free and balanced democracy—let’s all do our best to keep it that way for our children and grandchildren and beyond. Happy Memorial Day and God Bless America!