For almost two hundred years the railroads have been in America. They began small, but as the country grew, so did they. Eventually rail lines connected both the coastlines and fueled the nation’s westward expansion. They became entrenched in our collective memories as symbols of America’s youthful vigor and industrial might.
Over the last week I have had the pleasure of meeting many railroad employees – first by receiving a donation from the Union Pacific Foundation, then by speaking to a fraternal order of railroad employees – all of whom wanted to support the successful transition of wounded and injured veterans from the military into civilian life.
During the speech, I asked the crowd how many veterans were in the room, and hands shot up all around. Afterward, I talked with veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, many of whom now had children and grandchildren now serving in uniform overseas.
It struck me how patriotic the railroaders were. When the talk turned to today’s troops, their pride and concern for their well-being reminded me of the emotions of a parent or grandparent. They love their country, and it showed. I guess, when you think about it, it should not come as a surprise.
Because the country loves them back.
Those who work the rails, those who built this country and have filled such an iconic position in our hearts, are our heroes of the week.