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The Postal Heroes of the Pandemics

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It's nothing new for doctors, nurses, or first responders to be called “heroes.” But mailmen? Postal service workers? The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how “essential” these USPS employees are.

Countless everyday workers have been described as “heroes” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fourteen months ago, the term “essential worker” wasn’t used at all. But after communities started self-isolating, jobs that otherwise didn’t receive appreciation or recognition were beginning to be looked at as selfless, heroic, and completely necessary for our functioning society. When countless office jobs were being moved to virtual platforms from home, there were still many positions that made it impossible to work remotely. A few examples include grocery store workers, farmers and delivery drivers.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the corona virus pandemic isn’t the only national health emergency that the United States has faced. The so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic was actually the deadliest in modern history. Many parallels can be drawn between these two disease outbreaks (see the picture of the mailman in a mask above), that occurred roughly one century apart. Looking at the way the USPS handled their new responsibilities on the frontline is both informative and helpful — and relevant today.

The Spanish Flu can be seen as an even more isolating virus than the corona virus due to the time period of the outbreak. In the early 1900s, there was no Zoom, no social media, and no text messaging. The historical significance of the sheer power mail had during this time cannot be underestimated. The US Post Office Department was tasked with the responsibility of keeping the mail moving and by doing so, keeping people connected with one another.

Jenny Lynch, the Postal Service’s historian, finds that, “The ability to connect can be, quite literally, a lifeline during times of extreme stress. Mail enables the exchange of vital supplies and information. Perhaps even more important, it can provide hope, comfort and purpose.”

Perhaps more scientifically important, the USPS was also tasked with delivering the smallpox vaccine to citizens throughout the country prior to the flu outbreak.

Say what you will about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but at least our postal service isn’t solely responsible for getting the vaccine out to our people!

Today, mailmen and women risk their lives by working in person to deliver our mail. They wear masks and gloves, practice social distancing, and use copious amounts of hand sanitizer.

The heroes of the USPS can be counted on to continue delivering our mail through tragedies, emergencies, and deadly pandemics. Last year in particular, they were responsible for upholding our Constitution’s mandated general election! Almost half of the population voted via absentee or mail-in ballot for the 2020 presidential election. And, despite dismantled sorting machines, mysterious disappearing mailboxes, and no overtime for employees, the USPS pulled through.

What can we take away from the USPS’s dedicated work?

Probably the most obvious answer is that we should be extremely appreciative of all that they do — not just for marketers — but to keep every one of us connected to those we love.

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