David Marsden: We know who our heroes are

So, respite is soon at hand.

We all knew in our hearts that the restraints brought about by the COVID-19 virus wouldn’t last forever. Still, the absence of a deadline was tough to stomach.

After all, today, perhaps more than ever before, we’re accustomed to firm deadlines, whether it’s knowing when the rent is due or accepting that no more birthday cards are likely to come in the mail.

The declaration that much of what we do, much of what we enjoy, had been suspended, was tough to take in.

Premier Jason Kenney has signalled that a reprieve is in store. Already, golf courses are permitted to be open, and dine-in service at restaurants will soon follow, along with the opening of shops and other services.

The front line workers who have ensured our safety during these past few weeks deserve our enduring admiration.

ALSO READ: Kenney’s priorities are misplaced

Health-care staff have put their lives at risk to keep Albertans safe and make us well.

Nurses, doctors, aides and all the other components of a robust health-care system always make the difference between a dark outcome and one that’s hopeful.

These past weeks, that has never been more clear.

The same gratefulness must be expressed toward other front-line employees, of course: the thousands of workers who have turned up every day to keep the doors open at food stores, gas station convenience outlets and big-box retailers.

And, yes, liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries.

These people, many of them not that particularly well compensated, provide services such as SkipTheDishes for the Albertans who were told to stay at home.

Many workers are receiving their paycheques without missing a beat. Others are collecting $2,000 a month since their employers’ doors closed.

Yet, not all the people being paid to stay at home can even manage that simple task, judging by the parking lots of businesses that peddle lawn furniture and other non-essentials of spring.

Meanwhile, the people who stock our grocery store and pharmacy shelves have never flinched while non-essential workers retreat to a life of social media and online shopping. It is to their ever-lasting credit.

More and more businesses are expected to open their doors within days. It’s likely to be a gradual returning to some semblance of normalcy, rather than a spark to life.

Some business owners are bound to question if it will be worth their while.

Some employees are certain to question if it’s safe to return to their jobs, and will instead rely on the public’s $2,000 a month for staying away.

And all those priviledged people working from home will return when they’re told it’s safe. They were the first to leave their offices and will be the last to return.

Thank God for all the front-line workers, and there are scores of them, who put the health of all of us ahead of their own safety.

They are the ones who have kept the cogs of modern society moving.

If it’s true that an army marches on its stomach, then Alberta thrives because of the hardworking people whose hearts never surrender.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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