Navy sailor from Amazonia

Quartermaster Seaman Courtney Sharp, from Amazonia, Missouri, tracks the ship’s navigational position through digital charts in the pilot house aboard the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan.

Take a look at the photo attached to this editorial. What does it say to you?

The picture, submitted by the U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach, shows Quartermaster Seaman Courtney Sharp tracking the navigational position of the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier in the Philippine Sea. The flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5 provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the maritime interests of allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

You probably noticed that she’s wearing a face mask. The U.S. Navy isn’t able to maintain freedom and security on the high seas with Zoom meetings, nor can our nation’s armed forces afford to head to port or base and wait for a coronavirus vaccine.

So this picture, to us, says a lot about competence, resolve and the willingness to do your job and adapt in less-than-ideal circumstances. We received the photograph because Sharp is from Amazonia, in Andrew County. No doubt, hundreds of thousands of others serve with equal distinction and lack of fanfare every day.

Sharp finds herself a long way from Amazonia, but then again this sailor’s professionalism and reserve seems far removed from the behavior of those citizens she protects and defends.

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have brought out the worst in us. Already, the red state and blue state maps show parts of the country that value freedom and work contrasted with those areas that value science, facts and compassion. St. Joseph becomes talk show fodder for its attempt to slowly and carefully reopen as test results show a spike in positive cases at one particular business. You’re either killing grandma or you’re killing the economy.

Why does it have to be this way? We’re not saying everyone has to agree. The situation is evolving rapidly, and it’s a difficult needle to thread between economic well-being and health.

We’re not saying policymakers always get it right. We are saying their decisions, even if we disagree, are not part of a vast, deep-state conspiracy designed to control Americans or force us to vaccinate. They’re just decisions, made by fallible human beings.

At the same time, it’s possible that those who want to open up aren’t heartless or selfish but just people who wonder if there might be a better way. It’s certainly worth asking and questioning.

Perhaps Sharp contemplates some of this nuance as she examines digital charts in the pilot house of the USS Ronald Reagan. Or maybe she’s just absorbed in her duties.

We do know this. Today is Armed Forces Day, which is dedicated to the men and women in the U.S. military who protect and defend us every day.

On this day, let’s make it our own duty to start acting like the kinds of people who are worth protecting and defending.