Lt. Cmdr. Michael Heimes, a sailor with Expeditionary Medical Facility-M, checks on a patient connected to a ventilator during an Intensive Care Unit night shift at Baton Rouge General Mid City campus, April 28, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel R. Betancourt Jr.)

Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

When there is so much in the world that feels chaotic, and as we here in the U.S. embark on a time of transition, it can be easy to focus on the negative. On the glass half full. But not me; this blog was an easy one to write, colleagues, and I’ll tell you why.

Though it may not always seem like it, we do have much to be thankful for, and much that we hope improves in the coming year. The permanent official Thanksgiving commemoration, proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, was also a day of thanks in a time when much was dire, and all hoped for better times.

I am personally thankful for frontline medical and essential workers, as well as our first responders, doing their job regardless of the added risks, because they put others ahead of themselves.

I’m thankful for the hard work Science and Technology Directorate has been doing across the board—a lot of it remotely—to make a difference for our stakeholders and to protect our nation and those who serve it. I am grateful for our national labs, our Centers of Excellence, and our Federally Funded Research and Development Centers. Grateful for our folks who engage and collaborate with industry, our international counterparts, and those first responders. Grateful for our hubs of innovation, and for our teams who gather requirements and develop unified standards. These are all dedicated people doing the work, every day. And they make my job easy.

As COVID cases rise to levels we haven’t seen before, and we all long for a time when we can be together without a second thought, we are faced with a holiday that beckons us to travel and share space with loved ones from far and near.

Even as I write this, COVID has been arcing upward in all 50 states. What seemed a little risky last week, may not be wise at all this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending we all:

  • Wear a mask, and safely store it while eating and drinking.
  • Stay at least six feet from others you do not live with.
  • Wash (and wash, and wash) your hands.
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, serving vessels, and decor.
  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.

I urge you to be safe and protect yourself and your loved ones. You make a difference, and I thank you for that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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William N. Bryan assumed the role of Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology (DHS) on May 30, 2017. As the science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, Mr. Bryan leads the research, development, innovation and testing and evaluation activities in support of DHS operational components and first responders across the nation. Prior to joining S&T, Mr. Bryan was the President of ValueBridge International’s Energy Group in Reston, Virginia.

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