This is a very big week for Americans. In a couple of days, we will gorge ourselves on turkey, football and pumpkin pie — not necessarily in that order. And, later in the day, when we’re sinking into the recliner wishing that we had worn pants with an expandable waistline, we will spend a little time reflecting on the true purpose of Thanksgiving Day, which, of course, is to count our many blessings.

There are many things for which I am thankful. One is good health. Last year, I had to grapple with a rather serious medical condition. This year, I don’t. That’s a big blessing. I also have a good job, great colleagues, many friends, a comfortable home, a manageable mortgage, plenty to eat and two great kids — blessings all.

I also live in a country where all I have to do is dial 911, and the cavalry comes running. When we are fleeing a burning building, firefighters are entering. Similarly, police officers are all too willing to dodge bullets so we can sleep safely and soundly. And let’s not forget the emergency medical technicians. They encounter gruesome scenes on a daily basis that would give many of us nightmares for weeks. On top of that, EMTs have to make quick decisions under enormous pressure — and they have to be right, or people die.

As the comedian Yakov Smirnoff might say, “America … what a country!”

But there’s much more to the story. None of these exploits could happen without the dedicated people who work behind the scenes to design, engineer, deploy, operate and maintain the communications systems that first responders rely upon. Not only that, but already dangerous jobs would be far more dangerous if not for reliable, mission-critical communications.

Yet, unlike those they serve, communications technicians rarely get recognized. When a firefighter rescues a child from a burning building, he puts on his dress uniform, shakes the mayor’s hand and is handed a medal. Not so, generally speaking, for those who labor behind the curtain.

So it was very nice to see Don Root, assistant communications systems manager for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, receive the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council’s Richard DeMello Award during the Radio Club of America’s 100th anniversary banquet in Washington Saturday evening. NPSTC Chairman Ralph Haller presented the award, which recognizes “the highest level of personal and professional conduct and performance” in public-safety communications.

Earlier in the evening, Haller received the Barry Goldwater award, which is presented in recognition of exemplary service to the public via the use of amateur radio. Given all of Haller’s accomplishments over the years, he could have been cited for numerous other reasons. But there’s a certain poetry to this reason because, after all, amateur-radio operators are the very first, first responders when mega-events occur that knock terrestrial infrastructure off line. I still remember well the 2005 article written by senior writer Donny Jackson, which chronicled the heroic efforts of hams in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, who provided the only reports from the ravaged region for days.

So, to Don, Ralph, and the rest of their brethren, who toil tirelessly and largely anonymously so that the rest of us can rest easier, we offer our sincere thanks.

A note to our readers: We will not publish UC Today on Thanksgiving Day. Our next edition will occur a week from today, Dec. 1. In the meantime, have a safe and happy holiday.

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