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Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) May 1-7, 2011

Erik Bergrud

Happy Public Service Recognition Week! How are you commemorating this annual effort to honor public servants at all levels of government for the work they do to make our country a better place?

In honor of PSRW 2011, many of our chapters are hosting events and activities. Additionally, several chapters are recognizing public servants who have made significant contributions to the field.

I gratefully accepted an invitation from members of our Rhode Island Chapter to address students from the Shea High School Government and Public Administration Academy in Pawtucket, RI on May 3. I plan to focus my comments on three principles, which motivate and guide me:

  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Practice love and forgiveness every day.” – Multiple sources

I also intend to tell them that public service needs their intellect, enthusiasm and creativity now more than ever. And I hope that those students look to all public servants, especially those who are ASPA members, as role models.

During a year in which some elected officials have treated government employees as collateral damage, we celebrate the contributions that each public servant makes toward the safety, security and growth of our nation. Each of you matters. Each of you is essential. ASPA stands by you.

Five decades ago, a new generation coalesced behind a transcendent vision, one in which any dream, even a moon landing, could be realized, and a belief in the nobility of service to country and humanity. Since that era, the American narrative has changed dramatically. In a previous time, Americans of all stripes would unite with common purpose. Today, finger pointing and assigning blame galvanize public outcry.

I offer a different perspective. I believe in an America, 311,000,000 strong, in which each citizen is a valued contributor. I know that when we work together we can accomplish anything, harnessing the ingenuity and talents of the private sector, nonprofit sector, schools and universities, and, yes, local, state and federal government.

So during this Public Service Recognition Week, I will pause to reflect upon the countless individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to our nation. I will give thanks for my ASPA friends who serve this country and their communities every day. And I will recommit myself to “being the change,” the change that these complex times demand.

How will you find meaning in Public Service Recognition Week 2011? Send me an email letting me know.

ASPA member Erik Bergrud is the Society’s president and senior director of community and government relations at Park University, Kansas City, MO. Email: [email protected]

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