I spent nearly my entire adult life in elected office, and I have two sons currently working as linemen for electric companies in our home state of Mississippi. Although most people wouldn’t confuse a politician for a lineman, we do share a common bond: when we do a good job, our work goes unnoticed, but as soon as things go wrong, we are the first people called to handle the crisis.
What differs between my career in politics, and my sons’ careers working as linemen, is that at times I was recognized and praised for my work serving the community. However, for linemen, their efforts are accomplished mostly out of sight, and far more dangerous than anything I dealt with as a county clerk, a state senator, a highway commissioner or a United States congressman.
Thankfully, this month, linemen across the nation are being honored for their dedication to powering this nation. Last week, three Members of Congress, introduced a resolution honoring “Journeyman Lineman Recognition Day.” Put forward by Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-CA), David McKinley (R-WV), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ), it recognizes July 10thas a day to pay tribute to linemen. The bill was also cosponsored by 25 other members of the House of Representatives.
As a father of two linemen, be assured that I am familiar with the dangers of that career. In fact, the 10th of July, was chosen as Journeyman Lineman Recognition Day, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1891 death of Henry Miller, a lineworker who tragically lost his life fixing a power outage in Washington, D.C. Henry Miller was also a leader in the labor movement and was a founding member and the first president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Living in southern Mississippi — like any resident of the Gulf Coast — I know firsthand the importance of linemen, because our region is often hit by powerful hurricanes. When we do get pummeled by storms, the first step to helping people get back to their lives, and back to work, is getting electricity restored. Without power, there is no air conditioning, which helps folks get a good night sleep and feel capable of tackling the challenges ahead like clearing debris, going back to school and repairing homes and businesses.
As our nation continues to deal with the consequences of climate change, we are going to be increasingly reliant on our linemen to help restore power in times of natural disaster. A warming atmosphere will create increasingly powerful storms, more deadly forest fires and other catastrophes that take down power lines and knock out electricity.
These days, there is a lot to fight about in the halls of Congress. This is why I am sincerely pleased that both Democrats and Republicans came together to support the commemoration of Journeyman Lineman Recognition Day. It sends a message to the men and women out there — risking their lives working on electrical lines — that our nation’s leaders acknowledge their dedication to serving the people of the United States. All I ask, is that the next time you see linemen working, to be grateful for their service and thank them for their dangerous work if you have the opportunity.
Ronnie Shows, a Democrat, represented Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District from 1999 to 2003.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.