On July 14, 2016 the Middleburg Town Council held its regular monthly meeting. It was celebratory. Quiet. Sparse attended. Even Boring. Small Town Democracy at work. A treasure beyond treasures.
Celebratory: Gary Clemens the Clerk of the Circuit Court administered the oath of office to Mayor Mayor Betsy Davis and to two new members of the Middleburg Town Council: Kevin Daly and Philip Miller.
Quiet: Police Chief A. J. Panebianco made his regular monthly report. His badge appeared cut in half by a black ribbon of mourning. His small force, he said, didn’t “police” our community. They were part of it, protected it, and loved it as much as anyone.
Council then did its best to honor outgoing Councilmembers Trowbridge Littleton, Bundles Murdock & Erik Scheps as best they could, with best wishes and unanimous praise for their service.
That same day, in Nice, there were fireworks . There it was Bastille Day, another celebration of Democracy.
Some eighty-four men, women and children died as the smoke cleared over the Mediterranean, killed by a religious fanatic wielding a truck like a scythe, despite the all but hopeless best efforts of good and brave people to stop him.
The only defense against those who are willing to do what is wrong . . . are those who are willing to do what is right.
Sometimes that calls for courage and the willingness to risk one’s life, or even sacrifice it.
More often, however, it calls for hard, boring, often unrewarding work; done by people who are simply willing to do their best to do their duty, to their families, their faiths, their communities, their countries and their fellow men.
It is the work done all too often by unsung heroes who would never claim to be such: keeping sewers running; water flowing; schools open; streets clean; and their communities welcoming; and happy; and safe.
It is work that never ends.
And it lies at the heart of the unfinished work of which Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg.
It is the never-ending work that all true public servants quietly carry on, without fanfare, fame or reward, . . . every day, every week, every year.
And those who do it, to paraphrase the ancient poet, are truly the quiet glory of their times.