Your Views: One team, one fight, many hometown heroes

Your Views: One team, one fight, many hometown heroes
Volunteers from Volunteer Alexandria pose for a social-distance-appropriate photo after helping distribute food at the ALIVE! food drive on March 28. (Photo/Volunteer Alexandria)

To the editor:

As director of both the U.S. Army Geospatial Center and Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geospatial Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I have witnessed teamwork strengthen engineers to have the grit to solve daunting military problems.

We are similarly battling within our community against an unfamiliar opponent: the novel coronavirus. We are working, helping one another and fighting this fight together. We have moved from relying on our own circle of colleagues to a dependency on the clerk at the grocery store, the mail carrier and the health care worker on the front lines.

I have grown accustomed during my nearly 20 years in the Army Senior Executive Service to seeing men and women in uniform strive to protect us. First responders run to lead us. I am writing because I’m reminded that the uncommon heroes in national news are a reflection of an outpouring of community service right here in Alexandria.

It’s one thing to volunteer to serve your country and find yourself in the throes of danger. It is not what you sign up for when you volunteer to serve in a clinic, and here we are. I extend heartfelt gratitude to every health care professional, food service worker, waste management professional and any other small-town hero who has been ushered to the forefront of this pandemic.

To our educators, the Alexandria City Public Schools slogan “Every Student Succeeds” resonates because of them. They prepared for this eventuality before they could imagine the magnitude. It has been because of their ingenuity in setting up long-term online learning that our city’s students continue to thrive.

As we follow Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to stay home except for essential trips, as we social distance, wash our hands and mask our faces in public, I am confident the days ahead will get brighter and the number of cases fewer.

I, as well as the professionals of the Army Geospatial Center and the Geospatial Research Laboratory, are grateful to be a part of this community. I’m proud of my team for providing mapping expertise to the U.S. Army’s COVID-19 response. It is because of their continuous effort to discover, develop and deliver better solutions to the nation’s challenges that we remain a leader in location data.

This challenge before us is not conventional. Our opponent has moved in quickly with a lethal strike to our way of life. Our instinct has been to draw closer. We are that team of teams I have read about in military tactics – a highly disciplined machine propelling forward.

Our commitment to serve each other in this great city will strengthen us with the grit to prevail.

-Gary Blohm, Alexandria