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Profile in Greatness—Our Letter Carrier

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Robert Brescia
October 17, 2020

Letter carriers are sometimes unsung heroes—at least ours is!

Your mail carrier of old has many names you can choose from, among them: mail carrier, mailman, mailwoman, mailperson, postal worker, postal carrier, postman, postwoman, postperson, postie (UK) or the American favorite: letter carrier.

Our letter carrier is one of the last of his kind—A Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) era employee with 42 years of faithful service to the nation. He serves Odessa, Texas, a small but prominent West Texas town popularized by high school football. “Friday Night Lights” is our story of considerable renown. We are all about oil here—the Permian Basin possesses the largest reserves in the entire world. The people here are honest, friendly and hard-working. We love America and we feel a great sense of national pride and patriotism. That’s what our letter carrier is all about—proud of his service to the nation for almost half a century. We are very proud of him and his achievements every day, year after year.

Our letter carrier is a public servant with a penchant for serving everybody—not just a select group of people. He loves humanity and it shows in his actions. He goes the extra mile (no pun intended) to stash that box behind something on your front porch so that the “porch pirates” can’t see it and haul it off. He talks with you—not just idle conversation, but valuable discourse about family and life in our town and in America. His son is an officer in the United States Army. Our letter carrier shared with us his son’s progression through the ranks, his trials and his challenges. He rejoiced at the successes and regarded any setback as temporary learning experiences on the way to success. This quality of his made my wife and I think that he is the eternal optimist, full of hope—the quintessential American value that keeps us all driving forward.

During the Christmas season, we gave his family a token of our grateful appreciation for his service—a Christmas mail truck he might use as part of a display or as a toy for his grandson. We will never forget the look on his face when he received it, or the hug we got that day from a super mailman. He knows that every year we put on a massive Christmas display out in front of our house. Every time he brings us a delivery package, he quips that it’s, “Another box of something for your Christmas display, right Colonel?”

Our letter carrier always has a smile for everyone, and is just a naturally happy person. This smile never left his face even in his own suffering and personal medical travails. He had an operation to remove a cancer and we remember how quickly he was back on the job, hoofing mail around the neighborhood. What a guy!

Last year, on August 31, 2019, a crazed killer ripped through Odessa on a killing spree. That senseless rampage took several lives and many victims. One of the people who lost her life that day was a mail lady who had the misfortune of having her mail truck stopped and seized by the killer who shot and killed her on the spot.  This lady was one of our letter carrier’s colleagues. He showed a great deal of leadership that day and the days that followed by simply being a calming influence and sharing his great wisdom with all of his associates so that they could deal with this tragedy and move on. Even though he was mortified by this event, he knew that he had to set the example as the venerable United States Post Office employee that he is, because in so doing he reassured younger associates that this too would pass.

The United States Post Office has a venerable motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” There is a lesser known tribute engraved in the National Postal Museum in Washing, D.C.:

Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.

Our letter carrier retired this year and we think our community and the nation has undergone a great loss. If there a medal I would like to give or recommend for him, it would one for bravery, achievement, kindness, perseverance, honesty, ethics and a hundred other American cherished values and principles. He is an exemplar for young people to follow. He is from the “old school” where public service means sacrifice and dedication to those served. It’s not a “job” for our letter carrier; rather, it’s a vocation. He is cut from the cloth of greatness.


Author: Dr. Robert Brescia is a senior executive with service to the nation in military, business, and education. He respects the wisdom of generations, promotes learning, and teaches ethics to university students. Bob’s latest book is Destination Greatness – Creating a New Americanism. Bob has a doctoral degree with distinction in Executive Leadership from The George Washington University. Contact him at [email protected].

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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