Editor’s Note: In honor of Independence Day, I wanted to share this story written by Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade, my co-author on George Washington’s Secret Six. We talked about the importance of recognizing the everyday heroes who contribute to our nation’s greatness in big and small ways.
I had no idea where my research of the Culper Spy Ring would take me, and what resulted was a dynamic cast of characters, a little mystery and a lot of adventure that all came together in George Washington’s Secret Six (Sentinel, 2013). My original objective to explore untold chapters of American history swiftly transformed into a personal mission to shed light on the names and deeds of the men and women—all ordinary citizens—who had accomplished so much for the sake of freedom.
The ring’s members came together to accomplish something great, and through collecting, recording, and interpreting intelligence, they uncovered plots and unmasked traitors. And it was all done without the promise of glory or a marked place in history books. It was done simply because regular people realized a need and asked the age-old question: “If not me, who?”
And the story doesn’t end there. Today, there are American men and women involved in covert operations around the world and in our own hometowns who sacrifice everything for the sake of protecting our lives and liberty. We may not know—and many never learn—their names, but we owe them a debt.
Beyond those brave individuals, however, is another kind of person operating in anonymity. They, too, deserve our thanks. These are the ordinary men and women who work behind the scenes in our offices and our businesses, our schools and our stores—and do so without any celebration. I’m talking about the cafeteria workers and the janitorial staff, the groundskeepers and the maintenance unit, the truck drivers and the warehouse crew. They keep us fed, keep our wastebaskets emptied and our floors clean, keep the parking lot in good repair, keep the lights and pipes all functioning as they should, keep the shipments moving and keep the shelves stocked. If they don’t do their job, the CEO can’t effectively do hers.
We rightly have a day to celebrate our incredible nurses, our teachers and our administrative assistants, and if you don’t have a day to celebrate your dedicated IT team, you probably should! We honor many of those whose efforts go largely unheralded, but there are some hardworking men and women whose contributions are almost never recognized—who diligently do their jobs that enable the rest of the team to do theirs.
This July 4th, in honor of those whose voices are rarely heard and whose stories are seldom told, I challenge you to take the time to learn a name, to shake a hand, to offer appreciation. Let’s hear it for all those people who do their work almost invisibly but contribute just as importantly to how our company—and our nation—functions as the man or woman in the corner office or behind the podium.
We are surrounded every day by people who do thankless but important work. Just like the Culpers, the time and sweat that these hardworking citizens invest make for a better environment for all of us and help us to achieve our mission, whether that means selling a product, offering a service—or saving the country.
Do you know an unsung hero who has done important work without recognition? Leave me a comment and tell me their story.
This post originally appeared at DonYaeger.com.