Guest Column: Giving Thanks

John McLaurin.

A few days ago, as people dove into a Thanksgiving meal while surrounded by friends and family, seafarers were isolated on board ships at anchor or sailing across the ocean in rolling seas.

When dessert was served few, if any, gave thought to the farmers and field workers who labored while working the soil and struggled with the uncertainties of nature to ensure a timely harvest for all of us to enjoy.

When people rise on Christmas morning and open up presents, quickly tossing aside wrapping paper and boxes, few will give a thought to the longshoreman who offloaded a ship, doing a dangerous dance between yard equipment, trucks and trains on a marine terminal. No one will be aware of the truckers driving day and night over the Sierra mountains in rain and snow or the rail workers moving massive trains to all corners of the country.

As the chaos and joy of Christmas day recedes into night and we put our feet up and watch old Christmas movies, we won’t be thinking of our colleagues in the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection standing watch, ever vigilant to threats ranging from cyber-attacks, terrorism to adverse weather events, ensuring that our ports and nation are safe.

With the holiday season just days away, it is a good time for all of us to give thanks to the hard-working women and men in our supply chain and our law enforcement partners.

Our nation’s supply chain is made up of many independent but interrelated parts. For almost all consumers it is invisible, yet our joy during the holidays is impacted by the success of the supply chain.

For most, the only part of the supply chain that consumers can identify are the final mile drivers who drop off a package at the front door. But it is a much more complicated process, one that can extend back thousands of miles, multiple time zones, across nations and seas. The work is difficult, complicated and often lonely and dangerous.

If you have a quiet moment this holiday season, take time to think of all those who have worked hard and sacrificed moving those products and goods which allow us to enjoy all elements of the holiday season – and give thanks for their hard and sometimes heroic work. It’s the least we can do for them.

John McLaurin is president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an Oakland, Calif-based independent, not-for-profit association focused on global trade.

By John McLaurin